Former cheerleader Woods recalls homecomings past

Unlike most CSU alumni, Jan Woods gets to celebrate Homecoming every time she attends a sporting event at Moby Arena.

That’s because, prominently displayed in the CSU Hall of Fame area on the south concourse, is Woods’ cheerleading uniform – circa 1957. The green corduroy dress includes an “A” emblem, symbolic of the Aggies – CSU’s mascot at the time. (CSU was known as Colorado A&M until 1959, and the school mascot was the Aggies.)

“I have a lot of great memories of my days at CSU, and I made great friends when I was a cheerleader,” Woods said. “It’s kind of fun getting to see it when we (she’s married to fellow alumnus Bill Woods) go to games.”

Woods, who grew up in Johnstown, was a cheerleader as a sophomore and junior (1955-56 and 1956-57). She met her future husband at the old Cloverleaf greyhound racing track in Loveland, where Bill worked exercising the dogs when he wasn’t busy with classes and ROTC duties at CSU.

“Girls weren’t supposed to go to the dog track but, of course, we did anyway,” she said, giggling. “Bill told one of my friends that he wanted to take me out, and he called the next day.”

Their first date was at The Rock Inn, an iconic dance club in Estes Park first opened in 1937. They fell in love and got married following her junior year at CSU.

“That’s just what people did back then,” she said.

The young couple soon embarked on a 25-year journey as part of Bill’s career in the U.S. Army. They lived in Germany, Virginia, Georgia, Hawaii and other spots before Bill retired as a colonel. They have been married 57 years, and have been avid supporters of CSU throughout that time.

Bill has been organizing the annual painting of the “A” behind Hughes Stadium for more than 30 years. He’s been president of the CSU Alumni Association, president of the Ram Club and president of the Rams Alumni Athletic Association, and still serves on the school’s ROTC board.

Both have been advisors to their former Greek houses (Sigma Alpha Epsilon for Bill, Delta Delta Delta for Jan), and in 2009 they received the Jim and Nadine Henry Award from the Alumni Association for extraordinary service to CSU.

Jan has fond memories of Homecoming, but said traditions were much different in the 1950s.

“Everyone on campus was really involved,” she said. “We didn’t do parade floats – we did house decorations. Everyone worked on them, and then other houses tried to tear everyone else’s down. It was a lot of fun. And the Homecoming dance was really a big deal.

“I had the best time here, and I learned a lot.”

As for the cheerleading dress, she thought it was long gone until she discovered it in her mother’s closet nearly 30 years after she got married. Over the years it was used by friends as a costume and in funny fashion shows, until she donated it to the Hall of Fame last year.