A mountain of fur, a pair of gloves the size of dinner plates and a basketball jersey are laid upon the table. The distant roar from the gymnasium echoes through the hallway. To be roasting in an animal costume for seven hours is already no easy task. But to jump around, breakdance and do backflips? Welcome to the world of the NYU Bobcat team.
NYU’s mascot was originally the Violet until 1984, when it was changed to its current incarnation, the Bobcat. Rumor within the mascot team has it that the switch was because of a bobcat Albert Gallatin had once rescued from a hunting trip. However, the most commonly acknowledged story for the NYU Bobcat’s origins was that the name was derived from Bobst Library’s catalog system, nicknamed BobCat.
“We try to simulate the conditions [in mascot competitions] for our auditions,” the co-captain said. Students are given 90 seconds to create a skit with preset music score and props.
“[We’ve had] a kid who was black belt in taekwondo, and did backflips and moves for his audition,” the co-captain said.
For athletes on the NYU basketball team, the mascot is an invaluable part of the show.
“The Bobcat is great,” CAS senior and NYU basketball forward Jedidiah Borovik said. “Regardless of the number of fans at our games, it’s hard not to get pumped up when a six foot tall cat is cheering you on.”
Although members of the NYU mascot team use to have part of their tuition paid, today’s Bobcats enjoy different perks. There are duffel bags, sweatshirts, iPods and watches distributed, as well as locker space offered to all team members.
“My favorite perk would have to be that we get to chill at the Yankee Stadium VIP lounge and have breakfast before we mascot for graduation,” the co-captain said.
“What we want most out of an NYU Bobcat is determination and dedication,” the mascot team co-captain said, who wished to remain anonymous due to a confidentiality agreement they signed.
The Bobcat shows up at all NYU basketball games, and will appear on request for any other NYU sports competition, such as ice hockey or fencing. Outside of NYU athletics events, the Bobcat is up for hire.
“The rate is around $25 per hour,” the co-captain said.
During events, a Bobcat has to lose its self-consciousness as a student, and adopt the new persona. For some people, including the co-captain, this may be very liberating. As a Bobcat, she claimed to have dragged many audience members out of their seats during events.
“Kids love to grab at our costumes … [and] fans can sometimes show too much love,” the co-captain said. “They can be unaware of the fact that there is a person inside [the suit].”
For such circumstances the team hosts many workshops to learn how to interact with kids and rowdy fans. There are also separate workshops that help members learn culturally relevant dances, such as the dance for “Gangnam Style.”
Being a mascot at NYU is a varsity sport and the team participates in many competitions outside of the school.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 19 print edition. Nathan Ho is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]
* A portion of this article concerning the Bobcat was removed at the request of the subject. WSN regrets any errors made in the original print version.