International Students Learn about American Institution of Football at Colorado State University ‘Football 101’ Sept. 9-10

Note to Reporters: Photos of previous “Football 101” events are available with the news release at

The intricacies of college football are foreign to plenty of Americans, so imagine what it’s like for most international students visiting the United States for the first time.

With “Football 101,” Colorado State University helps those students learn more about the game and welcomes them into American university traditions. The two-day primer on the great American institution of football is co-hosted by the Department of Athletics, CSU Alumni Association and Office of International Programs.

The third annual event will be 4-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at the International House Lobby, 1400 W. Elizabeth St., followed by a tailgate at Ag Day on Saturday, Sept. 10, when CSU takes on the University of Northern Colorado Bears.

Marko Denic, a master’s student in literature who is from Serbia, works on the Football 101 program as a student program coordinator in the Office of International Programs.

“It’s great because most of the people who have come here have heard about American football and know that it’s really big here, but they don’t know the rules and all the small things about the game,” Denic said. “I know most of them would like to go to a game but they just don’t do it because they don’t know the rules. This primer is amazing because it lets them participate more and it gives them the opportunity to make more friends. It helps when you know what’s going on so you can make American friends more easily.”

“It has been one of the most fun things I do throughout the year,” said Gary Ozzello, senior associate athletics director. “There is a mix of international students who have a great knowledge of American football and those who will be seeing their first game. In my presentation, I compare it to a mixture of soccer and rugby, and they grasp that because many are so familiar with one or both of those sports.

“I try to cover the basics: equipment, 11 players on a side, and some of the basic rules. I try to also communicate key things to watch for. Most of all, I want them to have Ram pride.”

More than 200 students are expected for this year’s event, said Mark Hallett, director of International Student and Scholar Services. More than 1,400 international students from 80 countries are enrolled at Colorado State. They come from all over the world – from Albania to Vietnam – to obtain their undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Students receive a T-shirt, learn the words to the CSU Fight Song and sit with an international alumnus during the football game. Those former students include Darshan Shah and Kaizer Cooper, members of the International Alumni Engagement committee who have helped organize the Football 101 events.

Football won’t be completely foreign to some of those students attending the educational session on Friday, Ozzello said.

“Surprisingly, there is a group of international students from India and Nepal who frankly know more about football than I do,” Ozzello said. “They are a willing group who make me proud to be a CSU Ram.”