Auditions to be the next mascot will start with an informational meeting on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coles Sports Center.
Those who are interested in continuing the audition process will advance to the next round of auditions — time and date to be determined as scheduling permits. At this stage, contestants will prepare and perform a 90-second skit, using only body language and props — no speaking. The idea behind this is to see how well students can nonverbally convey ideas, especially under pressure.
“If you can do it outside the suit, you can do it inside the suit,” said a Gallatin senior and Bobcat co-captain, who, along with the other co-captain, must remain anonymous due to a confidentiality agreement that is part of their contract with the university.
“You don’t have to be the most outgoing or the best dancer, you just have to care,” the co- captain continued. “We want people who, once they are in the suit, they are the Bobcat.”
The Bobcat’s primary responsibility is to keep the crowd energized at basketball games, but also to make other on-campus appearances like Weekend on the Square.
“The bigger the better … Your body language speaks for itself,” said the other Bobcat co-captain, a CAS junior. “Go bold or go home.”
The Bobcats are a small, select group — last year, seven people auditioned and four were selected to be the Bobcat. The mascot is an official varsity sport, and they receive the exclusive perks that come with that status, including outfits, bags, travel and other all-paid expenses.
The Bobcat team goes on several trips, such as a five-day trip to a mascot camp in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the team works on perfecting technique, performing skits and collaborating with other characters from other universities around the country. At the mascot camp last year, the Bobcat won Most Improved Character.
They also go to a national competition in Florida with the cheer and dance teams, where the most qualified member of the team performs a 90-second skit with high-tech lighting and large props in front of a crowd of cheerleaders. They collaborate with the cheer and dance teams to make an appearance in their routine because incorporating the mascot guarantees extra points in the competition.
The Bobcat team is virtually student-run, with one-hour practices once a week in Coles’ fencing salle.
Tisch sophomore Andie Salgado expressed interest in auditioning for the team.
“I want to be the Bobcat because I think the school lacks spirit,” Salgado said. “I’d love to just put on the suit and randomly walk around campus. Having been on an athletic team myself and competing, I have seen how essential a mascot can be in forming a community.”
“Honestly, I just can’t think of something funnier than telling my grandchildren I wore a costume in college,” she said.
For all prospective Bobcats, the Gallatin co-captain had some reassuring advice to calm nerves.
“Even if you’re not the greatest dancer or most outgoing person, if you know how to work Twitter and you’re funny and you’re witty, we want that.” she said. “We want [the] Bobcat to be the best he can possibly be in every medium. We want people who care about the mascot. If you really [care], then we will take you.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 10 print addition. Jeffrey Kopp is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]