FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Hoss Khollesi figured this would be a routine repair job.
Then he saw the video, was sent the boot and he knew this was something a little different.
This wasn’t just a boot stored in a home to display. It was the Bronze Boot and every year it spends ample time outside, often being manhandled in the giant paws of football players.
When the Colorado State football team won the Boot back in 2020 after a four-year run of Wyoming victories, the Rams noticed it had fallen into disrepair.
The Boot was in trouble, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports.
“I don’t believe that Boot would have survived one more year like that,” said Khollesi of The Bronzery, a foundry in California tasked with restoring the Bronze Boot.
“It wouldn’t have made it one more year. They would have grabbed the Boot and lifted and the whole base would have been separated.”
That is an awful image to consider, especially for the winning team.
The Bronze Boot is the traveling trophy CSU and Wyoming have been competing for every year since 1968. It belongs to Army Capt. Daniel J. Romero, a Pueblo native who wore the boot while serving in Vietnam.
The trophy sits on the sideline of whichever school won it the previous year during each year’s CSU-Wyoming game and is guarded by members of the ROTC program.
CSU won last season and the two play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Laramie (CBS Sports Network).
In an annual ritual, the ROTC members run a game ball from one school to the other in a 65-mile relay along U.S. Highway 287, meeting for a ceremonial exchange at the state line at noon. The run begins at 5 a.m. Friday at CSU’s Canvas Stadium.
It will look like a whole new Boot, but it’s not. It’s just undergone a major facelift after CSU and Wyoming agreed to send it for restoration this offseason.
Khollesi says the Boot was basically coming apart when he received it over the summer. He separated the shoe into several parts and reinforced the sole with a special glue.
An extensive process to reinforce, re-bronze and strengthen the bolting of the shoe to the base took several weeks.
All while keeping the original pieces of Romero’s boot.
“We didn’t want to change any appearance of the Boot,” Khollesi said. “We kept everything as is.”
It’s a noticeable change, with the Boot looking like a new trophy. The walnut base was also restored at Alpine Cabinets in Timnath, owned and operated by CSU alums Dick and Ellie Chinn, according to CSURams.com.
Khollesi has worked on many powerful projects. He’s bronzed a boot of a soldier who lost their boot in combat. He’s worked on the vest of an FBI agent who was attacked while on the job.
This one will be added to his list of stories when he tells people about his work.
“My hand is touching this boot that was in Vietnam,” Khollesi said. “Right now, I’m talking about it and I’m having goose bumps. Obviously, that’s part of the history of this and also the history of these two teams playing for the award. It’s great to be part of it.”
Khollesi said he’ll watch Saturday to see the mad dash of the winning team rushing to grab the Boot, knowing the important role he played in continuing the tradition.
And the Rams are determined to be the ones to carry the Boot home.
“That trophy belongs here in Fort Collins and we want to keep it in Fort Collins,” tight end Trey McBride said.