North Texas Daily

Behind the mascot

Behind the mascot

April 28
03:58 2016

Austin Jackson | Staff Writer


After a celebratory stanky-leg-dab combo, sweat pours into blue eyes as they beam through the skinny mesh sliver in Scrappy’s bright yellow beak. The anonymous celebrity spreads an invisible smile and drapes their wing across the shoulder of a young Mean Green fan to pose for a selfie at the North Texas spring football game.

Scrappy is a celebrity and a showstopper. But behind the furrowed brow and cocksure bravado of the North Texas mascot is a business student, sweating off up to seven pounds per game.

In keeping with mascot code, the student in the suit requested to be kept anonymous.  But anonymity, the student said, propels them to be the best mascot they can be.

“Outside the suit, I don’t like a lot of attention. But inside the suit I’ll do whatever,” they said. “It’s kind of like Spider-Man. He’s this nerdy type of guy during the day and then [by night] he’s Spider-Man. That’s how I think of Scrappy—Scrappy is like Spider-Man to me.”

There are two students who play the role of Scrappy, but one of them dons the suit for a majority of events.  For the primary student in the Scrappy suit, their spidey-sense began tingling in the summer of 2008 just before entering the 8th grade.

“I seriously remember just laying there in my bed and waking up and thinking, ‘Man, I want to be the mascot next year,” they said.

The student said once they donned the get-up, the experience of being a mascot allowed them to come out of their shell and become a more outgoing person.

They remained the school mascot through high school, but hung up their Coppell Cowboy hat when they graduated and headed off to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech University.

Scrappy poses with a fan in the stands for a photo at the spring game. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Scrappy poses with a fan in the stands for a photo at the spring game. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

But after on year in Lubbock, the student felt something was amiss.

“I didn’t want to be Raider Red,” Scrappy said. “Actually, Scrappy is the reason why I transferred here. I was thinking about transferring, and I found out about the Scrappy thing and I looked into it.”

The student reached out to Kayla Spears, the coordinator for marketing and promotions, and was offered a tryout.  After sporting the Scrappy suit and embodying the feisty mascot, they received the job, sealing their decision to attend UNT.

“I’m so grateful because I love UNT,” Scrappy said.

Jamie Adams, assistant director of marketing and promotions for North Texas athletics, said the feeling from the school is mutual.

“It’s great being Scrappy in that they transform when they’re in the suit,” Adams said. “They become Scrappy. That is the sign of a good mascot.”

The student said Scrappy is different from the run-of-the-mill mascot.

“Scrappy is a huge flirt,” they said. “He beats to his own drum and he’s got an ego, but he’s friendly. A friendly ego.”

But being friendly with UNT faithful is sometimes not as practical is it may seem.

“[I see] nothing. That’s one of the biggest struggles,” Scrappy said. “People are like, ‘High five!,’ and I’m like, ‘Where are you!?’”

Another challenge, according to Scrappy, is watching out for children.

“There’s multiple types of kids. Kids that are sweet and like ‘You’re cool, take a picture with me, you’re sweet, you’re nice, peace out,’” Scrappy said. “And then there’s the one’s that are abusive. Kid’s can be so mean to mascots.”

But one kid is among Scrappy’s biggest fans. Pierson Hale, a 7-year-old second grader who has battled a congenital heart defect since birth met Scrappy at L.A. Nelson Elementary in Denton. Alongside the cheer and dance teams, Scrappy announced that Hale’s Make-A-Wish hopes to attend the Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas had been granted.

While Scrappy said experiences like meeting Pierson have been fulfilling, the mascot makes an impact on game day as well.

Human resources junior Trevor Connole, who is also a member of TALONS, said Scrappy sets the tone at sporting events.

Scrappy interacts with fans throughout football games during the season. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Scrappy interacts with fans throughout football games during the season. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

“Scrappy ignites a sense of pride and excitement wherever he or she is seen,” Connole said.

With two people playing Scrappy, the student said another challenge they face is embodying Scrappy similarly to avoid confusion for the fans.

“Some of the cheerleaders can tell who is who,” the student said. “For the most part we keep it consistent. You can be a good mascot but a bad scrappy, you just might not fit the personality.”

The student who plays Scrappy the majority of the time is returning next year, but there will be auditions for an assistant.

If a UNT student wants to don the green and white eagle costume, however, he or she will need to fulfill a certain set of qualifications.

“We look for someone who has been a mascot in high school and has experience being in a full mascot suit,” Adams said. “Someone who has a passion for athletics.”

The student said the key to being a good Scrappy is exaggeration, hydration and swagger. They are in graduate school, but beyond business they said they have entertained the idea of taking their mascot skills to the next level.

“There was talk about [being Captain, the Texas Rangers Mascot] for a while, and Victor E. Green is wanting an assistant,” Scrappy said.

But for now, the student is content being Scrappy. Either out of habit or joy, they can’t help but smile underneath the mask.

“After seven years of being a mascot,” Scrappy said. “I still catch myself smiling for pictures.”

Featured Image: The most recent redesign of the Scrappy costume debuted in the fall of 2013 at the Homecoming bonfire. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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