One Mascots Journey to the Crowd
Kyle Bruderer | Sports Writer | @brudkyle
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a giant crowd go crazy with excitement just by seeing you? Willy the Wolverine knows what that’s like. In some ways it’s like being a rock star, but also leading a normal life outside of the rock show. I’m sure that some celebrities wish they could have two identities to avoid the insane attention.
“I try to hide my identity as much as possible. In a sense it’s almost like a super hero character like Clark Kent when he takes off the glasses and becomes superman,” said Willy. “It’s an opportunity for me to express myself in a completely different way and not care because no one knows who is under the suit.”
Willy’s desire to become a mascot came while attending a sporting event as a kid. After being thoroughly entertained by a well-known Utah mascot, the journey began.
“The cool thing about becoming a mascot is that we all have our own individual stories. Mine started by going to Jazz games and watching the Jazz Bear, I could care less about watching the game I just wanted to see him do his stunts,” Willy said.
After three years of being a mascot for his high school, Willy was recruited by Utah Valley University and given an athletic scholarship. UVU brought Willy on board to entertain the crowds and boost school spirit. However, for Willy it’s about much more than that.
“The most rewarding thing about being a mascot is interacting with the kids, that’s why I am a mascot,” said Willy. “A kid can go to a game but they’re rarely entertained until halftime. The moment that they see that costumed character, it puts them into a fantasy land and that’s where their attention goes.”
In a recent mascot camp, Willy was able to impress the judges and received the NCAA most collegiate best all-around mascot award. By doing so he also earned a bid to compete in the upcoming NCAA Mascot Nationals in Daytona, FL.
As you can see, being a mascot is much more than just entertainment for fans. Willy has even joined an organization called the “Mascot Miracles Foundation”.
“We take kids that are terminally ill or dealing with other medical problems to fun events so that they can forget about those hardships and have a fun experience,” Willy said. “We’re a walking billboard that’s able to kneel down and give a kid a hug and make a lasting memory.”