The Ultimate Panther

An inside look into the life of a school mascot

The school mascot, known simply as The Panther, stands before a mural of their namesake.

The Panther

The school mascot, known simply as The Panther, stands before a mural of their namesake.

From CU’s beloved “Chip” to the Baltimore Raven’s vaguely terrifying “Poe,” mascots are a staple of organized athletic events. Until last year, our resident man behind the mascot was the now-graduated Alex Bergh, who held the position of the iconic Panther for the last two years of his high school career. 

However, Bergh’s replacement is nothing to sneeze at. This latest Panther (who wished to remain anonymous in order to preserve the mascot’s mystique) may be new to the job, but they are hardly an amateur. And apparently, the life of a mascot isn’t all dancing around and waving at spectators; it’s filled with a bit more frustration than the average onlooker may initially perceive.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but traditionally, mascots don’t speak during games; this is the real reason behind a mascot’s jumping and over-emphasized body language. While this may seem all well and good on paper—after all, how better to get a crowd of football fans excited than with a giant dancing panther?—according to this year’s mascot, this policy has proven somewhat of an issue. 

“People hit me on top of my head a lot,” the Panther said frankly. “They just aggressively pat me, like, on the shoulder or on my head. And I usually have my hair tied up on top of my head inside the helmet ‘cause I don’t want my hair everywhere, and it just hurts a lot.” The mandated bouts of the Quiet Game have apparently worsened this issue; it’s a bit difficult to nonverbally tell people to “knock it off.”

Another issue is one that’s probably a no-brainer: fur is hot. During the frigid Colorado winter, this isn’t too much of a problem, but during summer and early fall games, things can get a bit uncomfortable. However, the Panther has a strategy for dealing with this. “I used to have a fan that was inside the helmet, but it broke after my first game,” they said, “So what I do sometimes is I kind of just stand in place when I feel a breeze come through the eyes.”

Despite these issues, this newest Panther made clear that they truly do enjoy working as the school mascot. “I get to just be there and be in the community with my school and be with all my peers and just get to pump people up during games—it’s fun; I really enjoy it.” Their relationship with the Cheer and Poms teams have also improved their experience; Cheer members often help them with the costume itself, the head of which is apparently just the slightest bit unruly. Their collective support has brought the Panther a new appreciation for sports that they didn’t have before starting up this semester. 

Although their time as the Panther has been fun, they are unsure as to whether they will continue for the rest of their high school career. “I might pass [it] on to someone else next year, or maybe I won’t. Who knows?”

If you’ve taken nothing else from this article, let me just reiterate: the Panther is not fond of pats. Give them a high five. It hurts a lot less.