Sports Opinion

College mascot workouts are intense

By John Taylor | Jan 22, 2013
Photo by: File John Taylor.

If you are a viewer of college sports, you may recognize names such as Big Al, Brutus Buckeye, Bucky Badger, Hook ‘em, The Leprechaun, Smokey, Sparty, and The Stanford Tree.
These well known college mascots not only bring publicity and recognition to their university, but the students who portray these characters attempt to bring enthusiasm to their fan base.
Though mascots may be looked upon as a cross between a cheerleader and a theater major, it should be noted that obtaining the role is difficult, and keeping the job is just as burdensome.
“The job of a mascot is demanding, and the traveling and training schedule can get to you,” said Marcos Marcellia, who portrayed “Speedy the Geoduck” for three years while attending the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. “Evergreen is a smaller school, and only offered 9 athletic programs. But if the team was on the road for a tournament, or had a home game, I needed to be there. If there was a pep rally or public engagement that the athletic department agreed to be at, I was asked to attend. In many ways, the time  and travel demands of a mascot are equal to that of the student-athletes.”
Marcellia stated that he got the idea to try out for the mascot role from a casting call sign on Evergreen campus. When he went to tryouts, Marcellia found himself competing against twenty other students, and they all had varying body types.
Some were taller, shorter, heavier, and wider than he was, but Marcellia was told by the judges that being outgoing was going to be the biggest indicator on who was chosen to play Speedy.
“Everyone attending the tryouts knew they needed to be outgoing, and some of the tryout performances were really over-the-top,” continued Marcellia. “But I also felt like I didn’t have the best audition, but it was obvious that most of the other guys wouldn’t have fit into the mascot costume.
I think I did well enough to be considered for the role, but in the end, right or wrong, I’m pretty sure I was chosen because of my trim frame.”
However, Marcellia said was warned he needed to maintain a high level of fitness in order to maintain his mascot position. So Marcellia started a new workout routine that included running one mile each day, performing a series of plyometric jumps three times per week, an intense daily stretching routine, and four day-per-week weightlifting regimen.
But Marcellia admits that this new fitness routine still wasn’t enough to transform him into the kind of mascot he wanted to be.
“When you attend basketball or volleyball tournaments, and there are twenty other mascots there, you take notice of what they are doing,” remarked Marcellia. “Like college athletes, mascots are competitive and want to be the best. I noticed that many of the other mascots I’d see incorporated acrobatics into their routines, something I never did. They were also able to do things like performing one push-up for each point their team scored.
“Well, if the Evergreen Basketball Team scored 50 points at halftime, I wasn’t in the kind of shape to do 50 push-ups as part of the halftime entertainment, but other mascots could.
“This made me nervous that school officials would take notice of that, and they wouldn’t let me play Speedy after my first year.”
As a result, Marcellia began learning acrobatics at the local gymnastics center in town. He also began attending morning fitness boot camp and yoga classes three times per week, body pump classes twice per week, and ate a diet high in protein and low in fat to pack on some needed muscle mass.
Due to these changes, Marcellia said he went from 150 pounds to 190 pounds in ten months, and decreased his body fat from 13 percent to 8 percent in the same time period.
“The changes in my exercise and diet habits really helped. I could not only perform all of the strength moves I wanted to, but due to my gymnastics classes, I was able to perform a number of acrobatics during my performances,” continued Marcellia. “After my first year, I sat down with the athletic department, and they asked if I was planning to come back as Speedy.
“When I said yes, they told me they’d love to have me. I knew there wasn’t going to be another tryout and the job was mine, but I needed to keep my training routine going so I created a situation where they couldn’t get rid of me.”
I never realized that the training mascots put themselves through was so intense, and to their credit, it seems like the students who attempt to become one of these characters don’t have a coach telling them how to be successful, and they have to rely on themselves to improve their performance.
For this reason, those who decide to give up aspects of their college experience to become a mascot and endure a tough training and diet regimen to be the best at their craft, I salute you.