Eta Gamma brothers take part in 40 year tradition

Pictured Above: Four of the six Eta Gamma (Colorado) brothers that work with the Buffs Football team. From left to right: Nick Ranelli (’16) working for CU Sports Medicine, former secretary, Jeff Cole (’16) Ralphie Handler (responsible for running Ralphie), former social chair, Garrison Quinn (’17) current Archon and team manager, and Luca Evangelista (’17) team manager. Jeff Cole | Eta Gamma Chapter

While Ralphie’s main job is to lead the football team out onto the field at the beginning of the game and at halftime, the role of Ralphie has evolved, as she (commonly mistaken as a male buffalo) is now running at a few lacrosse and soccer games over the course of the year. The Ralphie Handler team, responsible for week-to-week care for Ralphie along with running her at games, consists of 15-17 students from all academic backgrounds and years in school.

This is Jeff Cole’s second year as a Ralphie Handler and being part of the Ralphie Handler team and tradition. This has been a great highlight during Cole’s time at Colorado University in addition to his experience as a Pi Kapp brother at Eta Gamma Chapter (Colorado). As a handler, or Ralphie Runner, Jeff is considered a Division-I athlete and is sponsored by Nike through the school’s athletic department, and Cinch, a ranch clothing company out of Colorado. The commitment to the Ralphie program is year-round, and includes workouts in the athletic department’s facility, the Dal Ward, twice a week throughout the year both lifting and conditioning. Running is also essential with the buffalo twice a week during the fall months. Game day preparation begins six hours before the game, and Ralphie stays at Folsom field for the duration of the game before returning to her private home outside of Boulder. The commitment to Ralphie is 30+ hours a week during the fall.

Jeff came to Colorado with the initial intention of trying to walk-on for football, but decided that wasn’t the best opportunity to pursue. After attending the Buffs football games all fall during freshman year and seeing Ralphie run, Jeff made a promise to himself that he would one day run alongside the Buffalo in front of some of the best fans in college football. He dedicated his spring semester to training for the tryout in April, but unfortunately did not make the team.

Jeff was crushed after not making the team on his first attempt but continued to pursue his goal of becoming a Ralphie runner. During the spring semester of his sophomore year he tried out again for the team and was overjoyed to find out he made it on his second attempt. His determination to make the team paid tremendous dividends and he is proud to be part of one of the best traditions in all of sports. With Jeff making the team he followed an over five year tradition of having an Eta Gamma brother as part of the team. Before Jeff there was two great examples in Willy Strazza (’14) a Pi Alpha, and Blake Gouin (’16). Both brothers had been on the team from freshman year through graduation.

Five other brothers’ work along with the Colorado sports program and three are included in the picture above. Nick Ranelli, (furthest left) is an integrative physiology major and former secretary on the executive board. He interns in the sports medicine department taking physical care of our school’s student athletes. Nick is present at football practices during the week, and works the sideline during game days. Garrison is a finance major and is the current Archon of Eta Gamma. He is a team and equipment manager who is present at all football practices during the week and helps with pre-game warm-ups and other responsibilities for the football team. Furthest to the right is Luca Evangelista. He shares the same responsibilities and commitments as Garrison. Luca is one of the leaders of Alpha Upsilon class, and has taken leadership roles in brotherhood and social events.

These brothers of Pi Kappa Phi continue to carry on the tradition of Eta Gamma Chapter and excel as exceptional leaders.