Amy Van Dyken’s Way: CSU renames street after Olympic legend

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has won six Olympic gold medals – including a record four in the 1996 Summer Games. She’s been inducted into numerous halls of fame, thrown out the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game and even been featured on a Wheaties box.

But the swimming legend and proud Colorado State University Ram has never had a street named in her honor. Until now.

West Drive, which stretches along the west side of the Administration Building on the south end of CSU’s historic Oval, will be renamed Amy Van Dyken Way. It will be the first campus street named for a former student.

“I feel so honored, especially for a school I love so much,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “This is probably one of the biggest things in my life. Yeah, winning six gold medals was pretty amazing, but to have a street on the campus that that you consider your home named after you? Pretty cool. Pretty touching.

“It says, I guess, that people think I’m pretty cool at a place where I think they are pretty cool.”

Van Dyken-Rouen, who was named the 1993 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, is widely considered one of America’s greatest Olympians. Her performance at the 1996 Atlanta Games, when she became the first American woman to win four gold medals, is one of the finest in history.

Despite two shoulder surgeries, she returned to the pool in 2000, training under CSU coach John Mattos.  With just three months to prepare, Van Dyken-Rouen won two more golds in Sydney.

After marrying former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen in 2000, Van Dyken-Rouen built a successful career as a radio personality, both in Phoenix and nationally. All was well in her world.

Everything changed in June, however, when she broke her back in an ATV accident, leaving her paralyzed. Although the accident nearly killed her – she was unresponsive when her husband first found her – she’s working hard to achieve another Olympic-sized goal: Walking again.

CSU is honoring her competitive spirit and determination on Friday, Oct. 17, by having her serve as grand marshal of the annual Homecoming Parade and by creating Amy Van Dyken Way. The ceremony is set for 11 a.m. and the parade steps off at 4:30 p.m.

“I admired Amy when she won her gold medals, but watching her meet this challenge has been more than inspiring – it’s taken my breath away,” CSU President Tony Frank said of Van Dyken-Rouen’s response to her injury. “Her grace, perseverance and strength are simply remarkable. She is a true champion in every sense of the word, and we’re so proud we can welcome her back to campus to honor her at this year’s Homecoming. I can’t think of a better ambassador for CSU, for the Rams – for courage.”