A Sweet Ride with Serious Ram Pride
By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
If you have wandered around the CSU campus before a home football game, you may have noticed a wonderfully decorated green bus surrounded by a large and lively crowd on the corner of Meridian and Hughes Way near the Ram Walk. It belongs to Nate and Heather Caldwell, tailgaters extraordinaire.
These two met and grew to love each other and CSU through the Greek system. She pledged Delta Delta Delta, and he pledged Pi Kappa Phi. In their respective sorority and fraternity, they also developed lifelong friendships, a commitment to community service, and a deep love of CSU athletics. She graduated with a degree in technical journalism, public relations emphasis; his degree is in fishery biology.
Heather worked in marketing at Hewlett Packard for fifteen years, followed by serving as a social media manager for Cisco. Her most recent gig is with Micro Focus, a software company, working in business-to-business community forums. Nate worked for several years at a private fish hatchery and then started his own business, Foothills Landscape Maintenance, which has grown to 95 employees.
The Caldwells have been tailgating, as alumni, since 2000. They and a group of friends always arrived so early for games at Hughes Stadium that they were able get a tailgating spot in the first row of parking. During construction of the new on-campus stadium, Nate decided it was time for a new tailgating vehicle. He, along with his sister and brother-in-law, purchased and refurbished an RTD shuttle bus, turning it into a Ram-bunctious Ride!
Their parking spot now adjoins the intramural field, giving their tailgating crowd room to spread out.
Every game you can find the same group of about 30 to 40 people in attendance. With the addition of one-time guests or special events, such as Heather’s recent reunion of sorority sisters, some of which had not been back to campus for 20 years, their tailgate crowd can grow to 70 – 100. It is a multigenerational group, including their 12-year-old daughter Ellie and some of her friends.
Ellie once asked, “What was the first CSU football game I attended?” Her mother explained that she was born in August and, at a month old, attended the first Rams’ home game that year. Football is not the only Ram sport their family loves. The Caldwells have season tickets for Ram basketball, and they also attend volleyball games. Ellie favors the women’s sports, seeing role models in the amazing women athletes.
Although there was sadness when their Hughes tailgating chapter ended, they describe the on-campus tailgating experience as “awesome!” They explain that it is much easier for fans to get into and out of on-campus parking than it was at Hughes. They also note that “you feel closer to CSU when you tailgate and attend the game on campus.”
The Caldwells are wonderful CSU ambassadors. They use their tailgates to get alumni to come back to campus and to become more involved with the University. They are proud to be CSU Rams, and their love for their alma mater is infectious!