Clyde: the man behind the mask speaks

Sept. 16, 2013

Alexander Nedd
anedd@uccs.edu

Clyde has become a recognized symbol throughout UCCS. The fearless feline has captured and displayed school spirit in a variety of ways over the years. But just what does it take to be behind the mask?

The Scribe set out to find more about the UCCS mascot and what it takes to put on a show for the campus. To maintain the mystery, the man behind Clyde’s mask wished to remain unnamed but answered some questions.

The first fact the mascot wanted to share is that Clyde’s character is female, regardless of who wears the costume. “If you go to our Facebook page, she is listed as a girl,” Clyde said. “The original mascot was a girl, which surprises a lot of people.”

Clyde wasn’t always a mountain lion, either. “Before Clyde, we were the Long Necks, a giraffe,” Clyde said. “Before that, the school’s mascot was gold bars. That was kind of creepy.”

Clyde can be seen always sporting her signature UCCS outfit – and the costume is hot (no, we’re not talking about her looks).

The costume is made out of synesthetic fur, Velcro and felt. The head is Styrofoam and plastic, and a fat suit is added underneath Clyde’s exterior.

“It’s not uncomfortable. You just get used to it,” Clyde said.

This particular Clyde has served the UCCS community for three years, but it’s not a one-person effort.

“Currently, I’m training two other people,” Clyde said. “Because the school is expanding, UCCS is looking to have multiple mascots, which means we can have Clyde in two places at once. It’s a plan that follows many other colleges, including CU.”

As is the case with almost any job, being Clyde had its occupational hazards. Clyde highlighted some of the dangers of performing that are unseen by the crowd. “On hot days [outside], you can only stay in for an hour before you get heat stroke.” More costumes and trained people will help reduce this fear.

“You’re not allowed to fight or talk to them,” Clyde said about communicating with the crowd. Clyde has a handler, or personal bodyguard, who oversees her while she is putting on a show for the audience.

Clyde also shared some of her favorite memories and activities during her time entertaining. “I got beat up by the Chic-fil-A cow during Relay for Life last year. That was interesting.”

Clyde has been forming rivalries with other costumed crusaders as well.

“Every year we take a student trip to Mines,” Clyde said. “Their mascot is a miner who has a pickaxe, he is always belligerent to UCCS and we always butt heads.”  However, Clyde highlights that it is all for show and seldom taken seriously.

Clyde explained how through working with the audience she has been able to coax students out of their shells.

“I work with little kids all the time and it’s just fun,” Clyde said. “With little kids, there are no reservations. [Being] Clyde, you can get people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. I’ve gotten people out to the court, dance to the latest songs – it brings out the school spirit and kid side of people.”

Like any other cat, Clyde also has a mischievous side. She loves to scare people.

“Especially old women,” Clyde said. “Clyde is definitely a mischievous trickster, getting to scare the parents on the side of the court is fun.”

Amy Sutz, the school spirit director, said that keeping the mascot completely anonymous is part of maintaining the mystery. “It’s been that way for a long time, and when I came on I didn’t change that,” she said. “Part of it is just that the people are part of something, but it’s also just kind of cool to be a mystery.”

Although UCCS might never know who is behind the mask, the concept that it could be any student on campus is part of the fun.

“I love our mascot,” said Kelly Garcia, a sophomore. “Whoever [he] is does a great job at keeping up the school spirit during games. It’s not an easy job.”

“I love it,” Clyde said. “It’s definitely the most fun job I’ve ever had.”

Jonathan Toman contributed reporting.