The job is to get up in front of a group of people — sometimes it’s a lot; sometimes it’s a little — and perform.
The job is to have a positive attitude, and to spread that positive attitude to others.
The job is to be helpful, kind, cheerful and friendly, among other things.
The job is performing as a college mascot, and when you look at the requirements, maybe it’s not surprising that four of them at different colleges within just a few hours of each other are all Eagle Scouts.
“We jokingly call it the fur-ternity,” says Daniel Wood, Eagle Scout, former mascot and current mascot coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We have similar personalities. We’re very social. We like sports. We’re passionate about our schools. We like being friendly, helpful, cheerful and helping people.”
Wood, 22, graduated from UNC last spring after serving as Rameses, the school’s mascot, for four years. He now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he works a fulltime job in sales. Part time, he’s UNC’s mascot coordinator, helping the current mascot with scheduling and other tips only a former mascot would be able to provide.
We’re able to reveal Wood’s identity because he’s a former mascot. The current mascots at Wake Forest University, North Carolina State University and Appalachian State University are all Eagle Scouts, but since they’re current mascots, their true identities cannot be revealed.
It’s mascot tradition, and who are we to mess with tradition?
“Mascot programs are very tight on identity,” says Wood. “You’re supposed to keep it secret, so it doesn’t ruin the magic. You don’t want to distract from the magic of the character.”
The Demon Deacon
The mascot at Wake Forest is named The Demon Deacon. The Eagle Scout who plays him is in their second year as the mascot.
“It’s been great,” they say. “The opportunities you get are not like anything else. You’re the person at the forefront of the university. It’s very unique.”
When someone becomes a mascot, they are in many ways playing a character, which means they have to learn to act the way that character acts. Many people will play the mascot over the years, but the mascot’s personality must stay the same.
“The character of The Demon Deacon … he has energy,” says the Eagle Scout. “He also knows he’s the handsomest man around. He doesn’t show off if he doesn’t want to, but he can if he needs to.”
Standing at the 50-yard-line or at halfcourt surrounded by thousands of screaming fans is great, says this Eagle Scout, but there’s something else that’s even better.
“Having a kid come up to you and just stand there in awe,” they say. “Them asking you to autograph their T-shirt or the cast on their arm. That really puts everything in perspective. It makes me remember why I do it.”
The mascot at NC State is named Mr. Wuf. (NC State’s athletic teams are known as the Wolfpack.)
For the Eagle Scout who plays him, getting into character is not all that difficult.
“Mr. Wuf’s characteristics include perseverance and staying true to yourself,” they say. “Honestly, he embodies what it means to be an Eagle Scout. It embodies our mantra of always fighting, and that there is always strength in the pack.”
Mr. Wuf is part of NC State’s ultra-successful cheerleading squad. Last spring, they won the ACC Gameday Division championship.
In addition to showing up at athletic events, Mr. Wuf, like other mascots, will make appearances throughout the NC State community.
“That’s the best part of the job,” says the Eagle Scout. “You get to be part of the local community. You get to do things that aren’t available to the average person. You could be at a concert one night and you could be filming a commercial two days later.”
The human inside Mr. Wuf says they learned two things in Scouting that have paid off when serving as mascot: time management and maintaining a positive attitude.
“I liked the weekly Scout meetings — all your friends coming together and working on the same goal,” they say. “That’s when you get things done.”
The mascot at Appalachian State is named Yosef. (ASU’s athletic teams are known as the Mountaineers. The name Yosef comes from “yourself,” but spoken with the accent of a true mountaineer.)
Just a few weeks ago, the Eagle Scout found themselves baking inside their outfit on the field in College Station, Texas, in the middle of ASU’s historic upset over Texas A&M.
Some of that outdoors Scouting training definitely came in handy on that day.
“I was dying,” they say. “It’s a relatively heavy suit. And once you start sweating, it gets heavier.
“You’re supposed to be larger than life. So, because of that you can get exhausted pretty quickly. But you still have to be high energy. You just have to power through.”
Like other mascots, Yosef appears at fundraising events, banquets, ceremonies and other local events. What surprised them the most, though, was the weddings.
“A lot of people like to hire Yosef to go to their wedding,” they say. “You never know if the bride is going to be happy or upset, because sometimes it’s a surprise. You can tell after they take a picture, if the bride starts dancing with you, then it’s OK. But sometimes, they just walk away, and you have to go do something else.”
The Eagle Scout says one of the things they liked the most about Scouting was meeting new people at events where Scouts from other units were present.
“One of the biggest things is Scout spirit,” they say. “Mascoting is like that, without talking. It’s a lot of high energy and high emotion. You do a lot of that in Scouting. It transfers right over to being a mascot.”
Among the highlights of Wood’s career as a mascot were an appearance on The Tonight Show and a commercial for Rocket Mortgage.
He says that Scouting brought him out of his shell at an early age and led to him being comfortable in such situations.
“Working as camp staff, NYLT staff … that gives you so much confidence in yourself,” he says. “I was able to translate that into being in front of a crowd and getting people to cheer.”
No longer serving as Rameses, Wood is instead content to help current and future UNC mascots. Five of the last seven have been Eagle Scouts, by the way, including the current one, who, of course, we can’t name.
“You really feed off energy from the crowd,” says Wood. “It shoots you into a new stratosphere.
“But for every one of those opportunities, we have five appearances where there’s only five people there, and those are the real memory-makers for those people. You never know the effect you can have on people’s lives. A little kid comes up and he’s so excited to see Rameses. You’ve got to be able to appreciate those moments also.”
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