International students celebrate culture and community with 10th annual Football 101 at Ag Day

In preparation for the Colorado State University game against Illinois State, international students gathered to participate in the pregame activities football and learn about how American football is played.

The 10th annual Football 101 event welcomed students and staff for a day of football-themed festivities. This partnership among the Office of International Programs, Athletics Department and Alumni Association offered a fun-filled and educational program centered around football culture.

Football 101 Students
International students learn the finer points of American football before the Illinois State game. Photos by Sara Graydon

After checking in at Newsom Hall, excitement built as students watched the marching band and spirit teams lead the players into Canvas Stadium. The main Football 101 program included a presentation from Albert Bimper Jr., the senior associate athletics director and assistant professor in the department of ethnic studies.

Attendees learned the basic rules of football, had the opportunity to ask questions and got a close-up view of CSU football equipment. The group then ventured to the stadium to cheer on the Rams.

The Football 101 program began in 2009 when Darshan Shah, a CSU alumnus, noticed that his classrooms were primarily international students who felt left out of campus traditions. After meeting Kaizer Cooper, a fellow alumnus who ran a miniature version of Football 101 out of his college apartment, the official program launched and became a valuable resource.

A celebrated success story from this event is alumnus Tulsi Adhikari, who previously attended Football 101 and returned this year to share his experience. When first attending CSU, he was unfamiliar with football and focused primarily on his studies. After attending Football 101, he gained a lasting love for the sport and even started a flag football team.

“If I hadn’t gone to Football 101, then I would’ve been limited to school and work,” said Adhikari. Because of this program, I was able to find a lot of friends, go to games and watch football.”

The event has grown beyond campus and is now held at universities nationwide. In 2013, Football 101 also received the Gold Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education to honor the program’s achievements in connecting students to American traditions.

Football 101 Instructor
Albert Bimper

“Most countries don’t have our version of football, they have soccer,” said Mark Hallett, the senior director of international student and scholar services. “We decided that we would provide a way for international students to take part in something that is broadly enjoyed on campus by teaching them the rules of the game.”

The program inspires students to learn about the game of football while also building a community with students and staff from across CSU. The success of the event is clear as students come together to sing the fight song, toss a football and meet CAM the Ram.

“The biggest joy for me is to see a student having a great time, being exposed to something new and feeling a part of a larger community,” said Hallett.