Mascot for a Day, Maverick Forever

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Mascot for a Day, Maverick Forever

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As my teammate suited me up in a thick grey suit, oversized plush tennis shoes and the headpiece, I knew I would never feel more like a Mercy Maverick than I did that day at Victory Gym. Being a mascot wasn’t something I originally wanted to be, but I always like to keep an open mind and live by “there’s a first time for everything” motto.

When I first entered the gym, I heard the music playing loudly from the speakers as the women’s basketball team warmed up for their game against Queens College. I made my way over to the hoop in front of the student section that they were warming up at. I greeted them with positive energy and dance moves that brought out ‘ayyye’s and moves to match mine.

I love to dance, although I know I’m not the best. But that’s the fun of it and the main reason I volunteered to be the mascot. My experience as the mascot allowed me to bring out some of my best dance moves and let loose, since most people didn’t know it was me. My teammates did know it was me and they weren’t surprised that I took this job on. Rather, they were excited, and the first to cheer me on and encourage the dancing in the hefty suit.

As soon as the light went down to announce the starting line up for the Mavericks of Mercy and the Knights of Queens, I lined myself up at half court to greet them with a high fives as they ran by to shake the hands of the referees and coaches from the other team, and meet their team in a huddle before game time. I didn’t leave the scene without including the coaches, and the men’s basketball team sitting behind the players bench. It wouldn’t be long until I was cheering along side both teams from tip off to halftime.

I interacted with the fans by dancing with them, giving them knucks and high fives as they walked by, and pleading them silently to buy tickets for our softball 50/50 raffle. I suppose my pleading and awkward dance moves were enough to win them over. My teammate and close friend, Yazzy Jameson did all the talking, and as business partners, we were able to effectively fundraise money for our team trip in Florida for the preseason.

You know the old saying. Happy Coach Mike, and money for our travels. make for a happy softball team.  

Though I had fun playing this role, it wasn’t always the most elegant of an experience. My accidental encounters of bumping into people and hitting people with my tail can be blamed on my inability to see anything that wasn’t right in front of me. With the bulky head of the Maverick already being too big, my head was bobbing around trying to look at the people clearly from inside. Luckily, I was escorted around and guided by my teammates, who weren’t even sure where to look at when talking to me. Although, I trusted them to control my mane from whipping the spectators and keep my feet a bit more controllable as they were slipping against the fabric.

I never want to hear anybody say being a mascot isn’t hard, because most don’t know the true tribulations until you actually experience them. The two gallons of sweat dripping down from the bulky Mav head to the bottom of those plush shoes, from the moment I put it on to the time I urgently stripped it off me, ensured that I was either dancing too much or that I was doing my job right. Who knows.

Maybe it was just part of the job and I should’ve read the fine print.  

There was one point where my hair was so entangled in every direction that my drenched face stuck every hair it could to my face like glue, creating a netted, blurry view, and making everything even harder to see. Only being able to tolerate this for a handful of minutes, I decided this job might require some breaks as well. Hair fixes, hydration sessions, and a chance to catch a quick breath of fresh air. These were necessities for my continuation of energy, otherwise I may have been the first Maverick to flop on the gym floor from heat exhaustion.

Being the Maverick gave me a different perspective on a life in silence. There was so much noise surrounding me, from the cheering fans and fans who opposed the foul that was called, the dribble of the ball, the timeout music, the shot clock buzzer. The only person who couldn’t say a word was me. This forced me to use my actions to imply to the audience the kind of energy I wanted to provide, to bring excitement and smiles in the atmosphere. From inside the suit, it brought me joy to see the reactions of the players, the fans, and my teammates, as it was my overall goal and intention to enjoy the experience and please the crowd at the same time.

When it was time to retire the Maverick suit for the night and go back to being Mikayla, I found myself thankful for the experience, regardless the appearance the suit left me when I took it off. My hair crazier than ever, my clothes embedded with sweat in every stitch, my pants that grew two sizes bigger, and the precious smear of mascara under my eyes. Even still, I went in the gym to cheer on the Mavs in the student section, as they battled out the second half of the game. I must say, the view was nicer without the sloppy horse head reshaping my vision through the fabricated eyeballs. My vision was clearer than ever, locked in on the basketball and the sweat dripping from their tiresome faces as they fought to outplay the Knights for a win.

I felt that energy: giving it their all to entertain themselves and the fans of the Maverick team that Wednesday night in Victory Gym.