Oct. 13, 2014
With the absence of the UCCS cheerleading team, Clyde is the one school spirited icon that remains.
Whether he’s at a soccer game or freshman orientation, almost every student has spotted the mountain lion mascot. But what goes on behind the mask?
Assistant athletic director for sports information Jared Verner is in charge of all things related to our mascot, including the suit itself and those who wear it. There is a privilege of being Clyde, but the cost comes with remaining anonymous.
UCCS athletic events are Clyde’s strong suit.
“Clyde does his best to be at every single home game,” said Verner. But Clyde is also scheduled for CU system events.
According to Verner, Clyde was in Denver three times this summer for a staff appreciation day, Colorado University day and an appearance at a donor event at the Denver Zoo. The appearances were made alongside the mascots of CU Denver (Milo the lynx) and CU Boulder (Chip the buffalo).
Although Verner did admit that there are several people who wear the Clyde suit, he remained very secretive about their identities.
“Part of it is just that mystique of not knowing the person behind the mask,” Verner said. “From a strictly administrative perspective, it’s nice because it forces people to go through us to ask Clyde for appearances.”
Verner indicated that while CU Boulder has several Chip suits, there is currently only one Clyde costume. “There are more requests for Chip than there are for Clyde,” Verner explained.
However, Verner also said that there are more requests for Clyde than ever before and he hopes to supplement the 10-year-old suit with another one in the near future.
In fact, Clyde is currently undergoing surgery. At least that’s how Verner put it.
“Clyde is going through some alterations … he’ll be fine, its minor surgery,” said Verner. “The changes that we’re making are being done in a way that will hopefully increase his flexibility.”
The alterations to Clyde’s feet, neck and hands will add traction on his feet, as well as increased mobility in his neck and hands, all of which will allow for faster reaction time.
Those interested in becoming Clyde should keep in mind that wearing the suit is no small task. Visibility is a struggle, as students who attend home sporting events have noticed, and temperature is another factor.
Verner can speak from personal experience, as he has worn the suit himself.
“If you’re claustrophobic, the suit could definitely be intimidating. It also gets very hot,” he said.
If Clyde is making an appearance at a game or event in hot weather, Verner is very careful to make sure that the student inside the suit stays safe. Breaks may be scheduled, and there is an ice vest that can be worn under the costume so that the student doesn’t overheat.
So what are some benefits to being Clyde? Anonymously rambunctious behavior in public is one thing. Another is that no one actually knows who is behind the mountain lion mask.
Finally, Clyde is very photogenic.
“Everyone wants to take a picture with Clyde,” said Verner.