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The Student News Site of Seward High School

SHS Today

The Student News Site of Seward High School

SHS Today

Being a High School Mascot

Being+a+High+School+Mascot

Mascots have been an important symbol of school spirit for many years. They appear at sporting events and at pep rallies to generate excitement that keeps the crowd entertained and the home team motivated. But nobody thinks much about who is behind the costume, or the preparation needed to perform at a single event. This is my experience as a high school mascot.

 

  1. Taking Inventory

The night before any appearance, I always take the costume home to make sure everything is there and that it is up to my standard. My school’s mascot costume, the Seahawk, consists of three components: The suit, the shoes, and the helmet. If none of them have been cleaned since the last use, I will give them a good spray-down before leaving them out to dry overnight. If I spray the suit, I will usually turn it inside-out to maximize the surface area hit with spray. 

After it has all dried and everything is right-side-in, I pack it all up into the correct bags. The suit and shoes can go in the same duffel, but the helmet has a specific bag to itself, which is cylindrical in shape, thanks to the foam padding it is lined with. If placed in a flaccid container, or its own bag with another part of the costume, the helmet can deform, causing the mascot’s head to look bumpy, hence, the special bag.

Once the suit, shoes, and helmet are ready to go, there are some other items on the packing list to take into consideration. The costume can get very hot and sweaty, especially at indoor venues, so a towel, a spare change of clothes, and/or antiperspirant have never hurt to bring. Hydration is also important, and a water bottle is an absolute necessity, preferably one with a long straw, but more on that later. Lastly, I wear clothes that are still comfortable when saturated with water. Swim trunks, rashguards, or other nylon/polyester garments are key.

Finally, it is time to load up the car and head to the event.

 

  1. Observing

It is always good to examine the event and plan accordingly. Notice where the student and family sections are in the crowd. You are going to want to spend most of your time out in front of these areas, as the people there will be the easiest to fire up. Also take note of where you are allowed to be without intruding on the activities. At a football game, you will usually have the entire width of the surrounding track, whereas at a volleyball or basketball game, you will only have the space in between the court and the bleachers.

 

  1. Suiting Up

Now, it’s time to put the costume on. With the Seahawk, I start with the suit. I step in from the back, while someone helps zip it up. However, I do not put my hands all the way into the glove portion, opting to slip them through the holes on the inside of the wrist. This way, if I need to grab something, I can do so with unrestricted dexterity. 

After that, I put on the shoes. They have sneakers glued to the inside, which helps them fit a human foot, but the laces are removed, owing to people of multiple shoe sizes wearing the costume, which makes it difficult to keep them on. As long as I walk at a normal, leisurely pace, they won’t come off, but if I need to run, I keep it on the slower side, and maybe curl my toes to make the shoes tighter. 

Then, after I am ready, the helmet goes on. There is a chin strap to keep it secure, but I prefer not to use it, as then I can take it off much quicker if needed. It can also be beneficial to have your helper from before look around to make sure that the flaps of the helmet completely cover the collar of the suit, ensuring that there are no holes that might allow someone to see your street clothes. 

Once I am all set, I pull my hands back through the wrist holes and into the gloves. This can be difficult to do alone, and having somebody on the outside help makes it much easier. Because the Seahawk only has four fingers, I have found that it is most comfortable to put my middle and ring fingers into the costume’s center digit.

Lastly, I get into character. This isn’t too hard to do, I just change my walk a little bit and get ready to give out high-fives or pose for photos. There are also two rules that I begin to follow: Do not talk to anyone or say a word unless they know who I am; and do not let anyone see under the helmet, e.g., don’t take it off. Together, these sell the idea of the Seahawk, and make it more than just a guy in a suit. The second rule is also why having a water bottle with a long straw is so important, as it allows me to drink without revealing my face.

 

  1. Showtime

Mascots have one main goal: Keep the crowd hyped. Every point scored, save made, or ball recovered equates a celebration. When any of the above happen, I keep the people going with one of various signature celebrations, such as holding my hand to my ear (implying that the crowd is not cheering loud enough) or flapping my arms up and down like a bird would do. Performing is simple enough, but there are some things I air caution to.

Once in the helmet, my vision is greatly reduced, for three reasons: The mesh, which allows me to see out without anyone seeing in; the beak, which can sometimes obstruct my view; and the fact that the helmet completely cuts off all peripheral vision, left, right, up, and down. Sometimes this creates issues, most commonly with not seeing little kids who want high-fives, or, embarrassingly, not being able to see out-of-bounds balls that have gone in my direction, and being forced to frantically look around for it while it is often right next to me.

On a less chaotic note, I stay on the lookout for other school mascots. Having a mascot from a rival team can bolster more school spirit from both sides. Additionally (although I’ve never done this), there is potential to coordinate with the other mascot, and stage a celebration that includes the both of us.

 

Eventually, after the game is over, team pictures have been taken, and the suit is cleaned and put away, it is time to go home, relax, and relish a job well done.

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