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An Interview With Kate: The Life of a College Mascot

You see them at every game, charity event, and open house: Kate and Willie, the Hofstra Pride. We take pictures with them, high-five them, and maybe even dance with them, but I for one rarely think about who is under the mask. I sat down with Kate to find out what it’s really like to be one of the faces of Hofstra University, and what it takes to be a mascot.

Kate and Willie are unique because Hofstra is the only school to have two mascots. While some schools get one lion, Hofstra is lucky enough to have two. I asked Kate what the best part of being a mascot is, and she said “People’s reactions. People tend to get really excited and they’re genuinely happy when they see a mascot.”

Kate and Willie don’t always get a positive reaction from everyone in the crowd. While most people enjoy having a mascot to get them hyped up, some are afraid or even confused. “Some people think we’re bears or squirrels or all of these different animals. We can’t talk so we’re just like ‘no!’” she said, waving her arms back and forth.

The suit itself can also cause problems for the human inside. “The actual suit gets so hot because the suit is covered in fur. Nothing is fitted so it’s a lot of weight from the fabric. It’s 100% insulated.” More on the famous suits, there are only two pairs of shoes (or paws, if you will). One is a ten and one is an eleven, so to be fair Kate and Willie each take one shoe from each pair.

I asked Kate about her favorite story from her time as a mascot and she told me about going to Virginia when the men’s basketball team made it to the CAA conference tournament. There were about a dozen other mascots, one for each of the teams competing. Halftimes are usually breaks for mascots to hydrate and cool down, but someone thought it would be a good idea for the mascots to do a knock off competition. “The problem with this is that all of the other mascots were wearing suits that were fitted and shoes that actually fit them. I could just tell.” Then they called the Hofstra mascot to shoot. “I was trying to run and I’m about to pass out because it was so hot. It was like a scene from a movie, all of these other mascots were staring at me and I thought ‘oh my god, I’m a mascot!’ It was just a really weird feeling.” When asked if she made the shot, Kate laughed and said she wasn’t even close.

Of all of the events that mascots attend, Kate’s favorite? “Jail-and-bail! That’s a cause close to my heart and it was my first event ever. Those events are really cool because a lot of people come out and you’re just there to get them pumped up.”

Then there are those that get too pumped up and cross a line. While fans may think they’re being playful, a small tap on the head is actually loud and painful for our mascots. Kate wants fans to remember, “There’s a human in there. Unfortunately, we are not walking animals. Treat us nicely!”

There are some rules for the mascots as well. At some schools, mascots are sworn to secrecy about their identity. While Kate and Willy aren’t under such strict rules, they’re told to always engage, stay in character, and that no one besides the mascots themselves can wear the costumes.

Being a mascot is a unique way to spend your college years, but for Kate it was an immediate desire to represent her school. “I saw the mascots at the club fair and thought it was cool, whatever. I came back from the winter to school and just thought, ‘I should be a mascot.’ I would be good at that.” Since then, Kate has been able to travel with the basketball team, entertain people at home games, and welcome perspective students and their families.

In the real world, dancing like no one’s watching takes a lot of confidence. In the suit, Kate can be whatever and whoever she wants to be. “You can make a fool of yourself but no one knows it’s you!” 

I'm a sophomore journalism student with a minor in creative writing from Cranston, Rhode Island! I love writing, traveling, and anything having to do with food.
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