This Homecoming Weekend, Goshen College will announce our new mascot. This is a momentous occasion, and seeing as though students harass the actual squirrels on campus, we figured we should set some boundaries for our new Squirrel Friend. To get an idea of proper mascot etiquette, we interviewed expert ex-mascotter Phillip Witmer-Rich.
Who were you? How long did you serve?
Phil: I was Billy the Bomber. He is a fighter pilot guy and I served as the mascot for 2 years.
What do you want people to know about interacting with a mascot?
Phil: Mascots are people, too. This is a key point. Just because they have a big foam head and they seem kind of tall and invulnerable does not mean you can start running up to them and hitting them. Also it would be nice if you could talk to us normally and act excited to see the mascot. It’s awkward being the mascot. It’s real sweaty in there. If you’re awkward around us, it makes us feel awkward. It’s not normal. It’s a state of being and interacting with people that’s unlike any other.
What was your worst experience as a mascot?
Phil: There was a group of 8 year-old kids, surrounding me, punching me, hitting me, laughing at me. I never got bullied that much as a kid and that was my first experience of really knowing what that feels like. It’s crazy how putting on a big foam head changes people’s perceptions of you from a human being to a big, walking punching bag.
How do you anticipate the GC student body will handle a mascot?
Phil:Oh, uh, I don’t think the people at my high school were prepared to handle the rigors and responsibilities of supporting a mascot, but the chaotic and fun energy of students on this campus make it clear to me that they are ready to support and embrace a mascot. Maybe I should be the mascot…Nah.
We also talked with Dan Eash-Scott, current owner and wearer of the mass-student funded, unofficial gray squirrel suit. When asked why he thinks the administration moved forward so quickly with declaring an actual mascot, he remarked, “they couldn’t handle the tail.” Dan hopes that the student body continues the energy he’s seen and wants to thank everyone who “owns stake in the squirrel” as well as the “NAIA refs for providing plenty of opportunities to unify the student section against a common enemy.” Go nuts, GC.