Elon University Student Newspaper /
Nov. 19, 2008, edition 1 /
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Page 14 / Wednesday, November 19. 2008
The Phoenix: bearing the
burden of being the mascot
Although the person inside the suit
must remain anonymous, the student
holding the position of the Elon
Phoenix has an important role at the
university: The Phoenix is known by
everyone and represents every aspect
of the school.
“The Phoenix represents our
school’s history with the fires and our
rising from the ashes, our school’s
present with a wise and strong symbol
of renewal, and it represents our
future as we continue to grow and
better ourselves as a community," the
The Phoenix is present at many
sporting events and other special
events like freshman orientation and
Elonthon. It is there to energize the
crowd and give students a sense of
pride for the university.
“When you see the bird, you think
positive things," said Trip Durham,
the associate athletics director for
marketing, promotions and home
game management. “Whether it’s an
experience you had with the mascot
at a past event or what you feel about
Elon, you should never look at the
Phoenix in a negative light."
With this high standard, the student
with the role of the Phoenix has a
difficult and important task; he or she
must do whatever it takes to represent
the school in an appropriate way.
The costume alone presents a heavy
burden, literally. The suit and head
weigh approximately 100 pounds, with
most of the weight concentrated on
the person’s shoulders and neck, and
in the shoes, which weigh about 10
pounds each, according to the Phoenix.
“There’s about an inch and a half
of padding around your body, which
is then covered in fur, and then two
heavy shoes," the Phoenix said. “The
head is very heavy and it rests on your
shoulders. Turning it requires a lot of
neck muscles, and it’s really hard to
see — it has screens in front of it, and
it’s only a small opening."
With such a heavy suit, heat is a
serious problem whether it is a hot
day or not. On hot days, it can feel 20
degrees warmer than it is outside. But
even on cold days, it is still hot in the
The day before game days, the
Phoenix drinks plenty of water
because of the amount of water weight
that will be lost. It is also important to
stay in shape.
In addition to the physical burden
of wearing it, the Phoenix costume can
present other difficulties. The current
Phoenix learned this the hard way
while getting dressed for the first time.
“The former mascot showed me
how to put the suit on and then left
me in the room to figure it out on my
own,” the Phoenix said. “There were
fluorescent lights in the room and 1 hit
the light with the head, and it broke. So
1 was standing there in the dark with
the costume half on. It was the most
traumatic dressing ever."
Now, the current Phoenix always
helps trainees their first few times.
The mascot is also responsible for
making any repairs to the costume,
and for keeping it in a good condition.
When people see the Phoenix, they
have certain e.xpectations. They expect
it to be friendly, charismatic and
“The mascot must be friendly to
all fans from 4 to 84," Durham said.
“The mascot should always represent
the school well in the face of the other
team. The mascot should never be in
a position to break the image of what
people see. The bird should never
take its jersey off or take its head off.
In short, the mascot should always
remain in character."
The current Phoenix does this by
treating the job as a performance and
“It’s just like cheerleading,” the
Phoenix said. “In cheerleading it’s as
much about the smile on your face as it
is about the stunts you’re doing."
The mascot is another part of the
cheer team, and has the same coach
as the cheer team. It even goes with
the team to the National Cheerleading
Association camp, where the current
Phoenix has been a two-time All-
American and two-time most improved
This semester, the Phoenix
has added a new element to its
performance: a stunt. The Phoenix,
in full costume, is lifted up by
male cheerleaders, something very
uncommon at other universities.
“I’m more of a prankster than a
stunt person," the Phoenix said. “In my
mind, the character of the Phoenix is
this little kid who likes to mess with
everyone and be a prankster and just
really have fun with people. It likes
to flirt with people, really likes little
kids and likes people’s food. And just
generally really likes dancing like
a nerd. I might not dance well, but 1
dance in public."
Engaging the fans not only makes
the game more fun for the crowd, but
also helps the teams. It keeps the fans
interested in the game so they are
more supportive of the team.
“I think it’s important that we have
the Phoenix to help get the crowd
involved," said Preston Stanley, an
Elon cheerleader. “It really helps the
Keeping the kids entertained so
their parents can enjoy the game is an
important part of the job.
There is a group of about 20
children who attend every football
game, and the Phoenix is always sure
to pay attention to them.
“At the beginning of the season
[the children are] really wary,” the
Phoenix said. “They’ll let mommy
hold them and look at the Phoenix,
but if I come near them, they scream
bloody murder. Then later in the
season they get more comfortable and
they can’t wait for their parents to put
them down so they can come hug me."
“[The Phoenix) makes the game so
much more enjoyable for the kids."
the Phoenix said. “I just know that
when they leave there they saw the
Phoenix and the Phoenix gave them a
high five, and they can leave the game
and it’s a good day."
But not all fans are friendly to the
The current Phoenix said it has run
into problems with people harassing
or even physically hurting it.
In its first season as the Phoenix,
it was walking near the concessions
during a football game when it heard
running feet approaching.
“Usually it’s little kids who want to
hug me,” the Phoenix said. “So I didn’t
get on the defense or anything.”
But really, it was a group of
college-aged guys who had been
drinking. They tackled the Phoenix to
“That isn’t something you do to
your team’s mascot," the Phoenix
The Phoenix was mostly unhurt
aside from some painful bruises, but
learned an important lesson from
the incident. Because of the rules
associated with the mascot, while in
costume the Phoenix is not allowed to
now, the Phoenix
always has an escort
to ensure safety.
Right now the mascot
team is building itself up,
and people are always
invited to try out if it is
something they are serious
“As the Phoenix you can
do whatever you want,"
the Phoenix said. “No
one knows it’s you, which
gives you the freedom to
do whatever, to whomever,
wherever. The Phoenix
doesn’t need a backstage
pass, much less a main
stage pass. The Phoenix can
walk onto the main stage
of a show and people will
has the respon
sibility to represent
Elon and its values
well. He/she must
act in a respectable
way, while entertaining
and engaging people at
the same time.
DAVID WELLSI Photo Editor
Wednesday, November 19th is
Blackout Elon Day
You can be a part of it:
• Wear black
• Stop by the table in Moseley
• Pass along Blackout Elon clothespins
• Watch the Blackout Elon movie trailers
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