Colorado Aggies.Com
Dedicated to the Preservation of Athletic History at Colorado State University
April 20, 2010 - The CSU Rams athletic family and Colorado
Rockies Baseball Club lost one of their finest men today when
48-year-old Keli McGregor died of natural causes while on a
business trip in Salt Lake City. A shock to everyone, McGregor
was described as one of the finest people in professional sports and
a great supporter of Colorado State University since his playing
days in the early 1980s. While
CSURams.com and other web sites
have paid tribute to McGregor's life, Colorado Aggies.com has
chosen to take a different approach to his CSU career. In the past
we have remembered players that have played long ago, but
McGregor, whose life was cut so short, deserves a tribute that gives
some insight to who he was and what he did for Colorado State.
His fame of being a walk-on player in 1981 to an All-American in
1984 is what legends are made of and deserve extra respect.

On June 6, 2008, Aggies to Rams author John Hirn sat down in
Keli McGregor's office at Coors Field to interview him for the
book Hirn was writing and researching at the time. Hirn
contacted McGregor through the Colorado Rockies website
and the former Ram tight end was more than happy to spend
two hours talking about CSU football. Below are some
highlights from the taped interview and information not seen in
the book Aggies to Rams. In the time Hirn spent with
McGregor, he gained respect for McGregor that so many
people in the sporting world have had for many years. He will
be missed.
Memorial Tribute to Keli McGregor - Colorado State Legend 1962-2010
Rams All-American and President of the
Colorado Rockies was one in a Million
Keli McGregor was a walk-on player for the Rams in 1981
and played a key role in CSU football during his playing
days. He was named as an All-American in 1984, the 1992
All-Century team tight end and inducted to the CSU sports
hall of fame.
JH - What was the "stigma" of being a walk-on player in 1981 when CSU had become more scholarship driven athletics?

KM - "From the time he (Sark Arslanian) asked me to walk-on I grew over the summer and I knew I really needed to make a
decision on whether I really wanted to do this. About June of that year I decided I wanted to do it and my dad told Sark I was ready
and he said it was great. When I walked-on I had the same thing going through my mind that every walk-on has..I didn't have a locker
and we (the other walk-ons) would place our stuff in the corner and change on a bench. We had to put our helmets and pads on a
hook in the corner and I had to carry everything in a back pack...the stigma is really just a lack of confidence."

JH - In 1981 when Sark Arslanin was fired and the losing continued, what was it like from a player's standpoint as the
leadership changed?

KM - "I was just taking it all in because it was all so brand new to me (as a walk-on freshman) and you go back to the beginning of fall
camp I didn't know if they even would want me around. I was learning so much as I was moving along I did not have the same
perspective as the older guys around me. It was exciting and it was fun. My very first play in my first college game I lined up against
Reggie White at the University of Tennessee who was also a freshman and all that was mind boggling to me... As far as the
changeover, I really liked Chester (Caddas, interim coach) and every game they were playing me more. Chester seemed to play me
more after the change, I don't know if they were looking toward the future, but I really liked it...I do remember that the Air Force game
was the first time I sensed the coaches knew their jobs were on the line."

JH - Did you and Fum McGraw have an extra special relationship because you were both All-Americans from CSU or was
it something different than that?"

KM - "He was just really good to me. I am humbled by how good he was, I am really humbled in my career by how I have a series of
mentors and people who have just been really good to me on all levels. Fum just reached out to me and always made me feel very
welcome. I can't tell you where it really all started, but we got to be very close it always brightened my day when I would see him. He
believed in Colorado State like nobody I had run across and it is very contagious and you want to be around people like that. He was
always so positive, he would go out of his way if he saw you and shake your hand. He was a very positive influence on the
student-athletes...The football players at that time all took very fondly to him and we would imitate him with that deep voice, but we did
that because we cared about him and thought so much about him... I just respected him so much."

JH - What are your memories of Leon Fuller as a coach?

KM - "My fondest memory of Leon Fuller is that he hired Sonny Lubick. Sonny was the best, the best I have ever been around. I have
played for some wonderful coaches, but there was no one better than Sonny...He really taught you the right way, it's no different on
and off the field, he cared about you first and then everything else whether he was a teacher, a coach, a mentor, supporter that was all
that came back to the fact that he really cared about you... My time at Colorado State is defined in many ways, but it is defined by a lot
of people and he is right at the top of the list."

JH - How did you and the other players feel the anti-athletics pressure during your playing days in the early 1980s and the
financial stress on all CSU athletic at the time?

KM - "I felt all that, but I didn't have anything to compare it to. I didn't know that our situation was different than anybody else...One
time we went down and played Texas El Paso and we flew down there at 11:00 on Saturday morning, the day of the game. You can
ask anybody, but our pre-game meal ended up being toast and honey. The sense was that when we got there the hotel screwed up and
they wern't prepared and they just started making toast. I look at that now and I realize how screwed up that was. That is one story I
remember where they were going to save every penny they had. Nobody intentionally wanted that to happen, and knowing Fum I
know he did not want that, but it was just a bi-product of what the situation was at the time."

JH - Do you have more to talk about Sonny in your playing days?

KM - "I looked forward to seeing Sonny every day. Harper (LeBel) and I were very good friends and we just looked forward to
seeing him every day. We just loved him and in summer time we would go visit him and we would go by his office. He was the best at
just siting around; when it was time to get to business we would get to business and we had respect for him, but we looked for as much
social time as we could get with him. He would tell us stories about his kids and his wife and he would make stories funny and we
would make fun of him and he would always laugh...we used to imitate him and I can still talk like him. We would always bring stuff up
to get one of those words he could not command we would have him say it...He also had the ability to get serious and he would tell
you if you let him down. He would tell me, 'You are one of the most gifted tight ends in the country and you let yourself down this
weekend.' and that's the way he would talk to me. He had a way that would make you move along...He would not let me or Harper up
for error because he knew how gifted we were...It's a beautiful thing about athletics, you know I have all this respect for Fum as a
friend. It cuts down generation gaps and it moulds people, relationships if you allow it to in ways."

JH - In 1983, you renew the rivalry with CU, but the two teams had not played one another since before you were born.
How did you and the team get excited for a game where you played your "rival" when CSU had not played them in 25
years?

KM - "I was excited. I think we looked at it that way (as a rival) because we were so familiar with the University of Colorado. I went
to a lot of CU games when I was a kid, but you get it in your blood that when you go to CSU all of a sudden you don't like CU, it just
part of the deal and it hangs with you. I went to the University of Florida and I was there for two years and I have never liked Florida
State ever since, so that's just part of the beauty of sports."

JH - Did you guys sing Fum's Song before the CU game?

KM - "We sang Fum's song before every game and we always asked him to sing it for us. He would come over on Friday nights and
sing that every week, we just loved that...Other memories of Fum I have are that every week, win or lose he would go around and
shake your hand and that was meaningful...Relationships is what it is all about in sports. The most significant and purposeful way to add
value is to add value to people and develop relationships with people. Fum and Sonny valued me."

Keli McGregor showed his passion for CSU and all of sports during his two-hour interview. He spoke of the passing ability of
Terry Nugent and weighed in on college athletics as well as making a comparison that Colorado State is similar to the
Colorado Rockies. He said, "The Rockies are not going to go and out-spend other teams in baseball, but they are going to get
the job done."

His enthusiasm for Colorado State football, Fum McGraw, Sonny Lubick and all of his former teammates he played with
showed very well during the interview and he was so excited to discuss it he spoke longer than the tape could record the
conversation. Keli McGregor exemplified the
Aggie Spirit in so many CSU alumni and always had the Ram Pride in his heart,
mind and soul. He will be greatly missed by his friends, the sporting world and especially his family.
McGregor
memories from
Jeff Harper,
Steve Bartalo
and Terry Hinn

"He was someone
we all looked up to,
I mean he was a
great person very
respectful."

Jeff Harper

"As a walk-on
freshman player, I
did a lot of
watching both on
the field and in
meetings and just of
the team in general.
 Keli was a guy that
seemed so grounded
and focused.  While
other guys were
being pulled in
different directions,
Keli always seemed
to know where he
was moving.  He set
an example for a lot
of the young guys to
watch and learn
from."

Steve Bartalo

"My memories of
Keli on the field
were the way he
would dive at the
end of every pass
that he caught
trying for extra
yardage, which with
his long body would
end up adding
about 5 yards to his
average per catch.  
I can still see him
hopping around in
the end zone after
he scored against
New Mexico at
home as time
clicked off the clock
and we came back
to win."

Steve Bartalo

"When he was
joking around, it
seemed as if he and
Harps (Harper
LeBel) were a pair.  
They always had
inside jokes and
loved to kid the
other guys. He will
be missed greatly by
all that knew him."

Steve Bartalo

"Keli and Harper
LaBel always sung
us "Fum's Song"
but Keli would
always do it with
his imitation of
Fums voice, he did
it well!!, and I don't
rememeber which
game it was after
but Fum came up to
him afterwards and
told him, "Damnit
Keli, I'm as proud
of you as your
parents are, Damn,
it!! Keli would
always re-tell that,
of course in his
Fum voice, Keli and
Fum had a mutual
respect...two of the
CSU Greats!!"  

Terry Hinn

"Keli used to do a
lot of Coach
immitations. Coach
Fuller, Coach Sloan
and yes even Coach
Lubick..all in fun."

Terry Hinn

"John Blaskovitch
and I would have
never made it
through school
w/out Keli. Keli was
a great student
smartest dude I
knew he helped a
bunch of us pass
organic chemistry
always there to
help."

Jeff Harper

"One summer,
Harper Lebel, Keli,
Mike McMorris and
I shared a 2
bedroom apartment
for a while.  I was
working in
Denver,unloading
trucks for NW
transport, and
would get home
early in the
morning.  We would
yell across the
rooms at each other
in the middle of the
night, sing old
Stones songs to
each other without
being able to carry
a tune and basically
carry on until we
were too tired for
anything else - just
great college stuff
where it doesn't
matter what time
you go to sleep
because you know
exactly what you
have to do during
the day, basically
nothing.  We would
get up about 10 for
breakfast and then
go lift, run and
catch passes before
heading back out to
work."

Steve Bartalo