By Published: Oct. 10, 2022

Run, Ralphie, run! As game day comes around, let's appreciate the hard work and care Ralphie handlers provide.

“It’s a feeling you’ll never forget,” Ralphie handler Kate Drobnich said. “Building a relationship with a buffalo is so unique.”

Drobnich is a junior at CU Boulder studying astronomy and geology. She is an experienced Ralphie handler who loves her job. 

Handler Kate Drobnich with Ralphie

Handler Kate Drobnich with Ralphie VI

Ralphie handlers are strong.

Running with Ralphie is physically challenging. Ralphie handlers must be strong and fast to work with the buffalo. They train a couple times a week early in the morning. They can often be found running at Folsom Field or lifting weights with a trainer.

“Most of the team did some kind of sport in high school,” Drobnich said. “The running definitely helped me out a little bit, getting to where I am.” 

In her freshman year, Drobnich signed up for tryouts. She was tested on sprinting times, pullups, mobility, etc. It is hard work running with Ralphie! 

They have a special bond with Ralphie.

Ralphie’s kind personality is something only few get to fully experience. Drobnich describes her as a puppy who enjoys playing games such as soccer and tetherball. 

“She’s super sweet and so smart that she recognizes all of us,” Drobnich said. “When she sees our cars pulling up to the ranch she starts running back and forth because she gets so excited.

Game days are amazing.

“It’s the coolest feeling I have ever felt being on the field on game day,” Drobnich said. “When she goes to run, the energy that you get to bring to the student section and the stands is something you will never forget. 

Front-row seats are guaranteed for handlers. During the game, they watch from the end zone. 

“It’s just cool,” Drobnich said. “We get cool gear, we are given athlete food. It’s good stuff. The treatment is pretty good here.”

They form strong relationships with each other.

Ralphie handlers spend a lot of time together, especially during game season. Some bonds are formed through the interview process. This shared experience helps determine how handlers are chosen. One way to get the job is by getting along with others on the team.

“I think the relationships I get to have with my teammates is my favorite part,” Drobnich said. “I’ve made some of my best friends from that team.”

Ralphie handler tryouts are open.

Does being a Ralphie handler sound right for you? Applications for Ralphie handlers are now open! Students have a unique opportunity to form an unforgettable bond with a buffalo.

“You can put that on your resume: ‘I ran with Ralphie,’” Drobnich said. “She’s a great buffalo. I really do love her.”

The deadline to apply is Oct. 31. Applicants must be full-time students, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, and have at least one fall semester remaining before graduation. 

Are you interested? Learn more about the requirements and apply.