The induction of William Calvin “Kayo” Lam into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 honors him as one of the greatest football players at the University of Colorado. But he was much more than that.
No one has described Lam as well as Fred Casotti; the glib sports information director turned associate athletic director and author of the book Football C. R. (Casotti-uncensored) Style. Casotti wrote:
“He’s tempestuous, impulsive, reckless, a wild-pulsating bundle of nervous energy. ‘Jerky Bill’ to his close friends because of his twitching, twisting physical moves. But a great guy. A great friend. And one of the toughest competitors on or off the field I’ve ever known.”
Kayo earned seven letters at Colorado University in football, track and wrestling. The university’s tailback was its quarterback in his playing days of the mid-30s and his number eight was a familiar sight with his speed, shiftiness and highly competitive instinct. He was a bona fide triple threat.
Lam’s biggest season was in 1935, the year he played in the same backfield with CU’s all-time great Byron “Whizzer” White. That year, Kayo set a school record that is still in the books. The record was for most yards gained by all methods in a single season, 2,225 in nine games.
Lam stayed at CU in a variety of jobs before working into the business manager of athletics role he was to play the rest of his collegiate season.
Casotti described Lam’s loyalty to CU this way: “Kayo Lam was probably the most loyal alumnus of CU ever sent forth in the world. Totally and completely dedicated to his alma mater. Forever. Through thick, thin or whatever other degree of density might be in vogue. His is a loyalty made up of equal parts of intelligent debate or as-tough-as-you-want physical combat. You name it, he’ll meet you on your chosen ground, with vocabulary or fist, whichever you prefer. But either way, your meeting will end in a knockout. A Kayo if you prefer. Because he will take you right to the end of the line. It’ll be you or him. And you ought to be prepared to lose.”
When Lam retired from CU in 1970, he spent much of his time traveling with his wife, Thelma, and playing golf in his beloved Boulder.
Casotti summed up Lam’s retirement: “Time may slow him down but it will never stop him. Only the man with the long, white beard and the scythe will ever do that. And even he won’t get it done until after he’s had a great struggle.”
His is a loyalty made up of equal parts of intelligent debate or as-tough-as-you-want physical combat.