The NYU mascot is a mystery to many students at this school. Sometimes, we call ourselves the Bobcats, sometimes the Violets. It can be a great source of confusion; however, one group provides us with some insight on this topic: the NYU Mascot Team. Current captain and Stern sophomore Avery DeWindt explained what it means to be on the mascot team and the rewarding experience that it brings.
“I always wanted to be the mascot in high school, but my athletic director never let me because I was on all of the sports team,” DeWindt said. “Once I got [to NYU] and I went to the club fest and I saw there was a mascot table I thought, why not?”
The team typically consists of about eight or more members, who each rotate wearing the costume to different events around school. They specifically attend all of the basketball games for the men’s and women’s teams. Aside from those, they are typically asked by the school or hired to do additional appearances at events such as the Presidential Welcome, commencements, alumni events and university open houses, as well as joining the cheer and dance teams at their national competitions in Florida.
DeWindt has been the team captain since last spring. His duties consists of coordinating everything that goes on with the team because the group does not have an official coach.
“I schedule practices and run those practices,” DeWindt said. “I plan events; our major events are basketball games so I schedule that. I also get in contact with people who want to request a bobcat for private events.”
Events and organization aside, DeWindt says he feels that the best part of being on the team is its ability to connect with the younger fans.
“I personally enjoy interacting with kids,” DeWindt said. “I feel like it’s the best because they’ve never seen anything like this before; they don’t even know what a mascot is, so to them, it’s just like you’re a big animal.”
SPS junior Irene Kulbida is a former captain of the group who stepped down when she studied abroad last semester. Kulbida found her inspiration for the position in her lineage — her mom was the mascot at NYU years ago. She explained that she also loves putting a smile on kids faces while in costume.
“The kids, if they’re not absolutely terrified of the big fangs, usually love it,” Kulbida said. “They love to take pictures and just [see] us walking about. It’s like going to Disney.”
She admits that the multiple mascot identities of NYU can become challenging for the fans. At sports events, most of the teams are introduced as the “Violets” by announcers and commentators.
“NYU is constantly debating whether we are the Violets or the Bobcats,” Kulbida said. “Because we are projected as the NYU Violets for every team, people are confused when they see a bobcat [at the events].”
While the program has made great strides in supporting NYU athletics and representing the school when needed, both DeWindt and Kulbida would like to see the program taken to new heights in years to come.
“Going to more sports game, having a bigger, more active team [are things I would like to see],” Kulbida said.
DeWindt would like to see the team take the bobcat in a more acrobatic direction. He’d like to implement dances or skits into the halftime shows and even go to mascot competitions if they ever get selected.
To field new members of the team, they host auditions consisting of a short dance in front of team leaders. Those who just want to hang out with the bobcat, as opposed to wear the suit, can find the fuzzy feline at all of the NYU basketball home games, which are now played at Hunter College due to construction at Coles.
Email Maddie Howard at [email protected]