Inside the furry suit: Swoop, the Post U Eagle
Swoop is a common name for fierce, winged mascots. Professional teams like the Philly Eagles and several colleges nationwide (including Miami University in Ohio and the University of Utah) have a “Swoop” on the field getting the crowds riled up. So what sets Swoop the Post University eagle apart? We decided to find out by talking to Bob Sembiante, communications associate at the school and one of the many people who navigate the world looking through the mesh neck of Swoop’s costume.
What has Swoop been up to lately?
Every year we do a United Way campaign on campus for our faculty and staff to contribute. So, Swoop has just finished up his visits to all of the offices, encouraging people to come out and pledge. The employees love when Swoop comes through. We get tons of photos taken. It’s exciting for them to see them. You don’t expect a seven-foot-tall eagle to come walking through your office every day.
But most of Swoop’s duties are on the athletic field, right?
Yes, on a more regular basis he appears at football, basketball and other sports games. He was a big draw this year because Post University just had it’s first home sprint football games on our new field. Sprint football is different from regular football because there’s a weight limit: 172 pounds. It makes for a faster game, but the main difference is that all the rest of Post teams are NCAA Division II. Sprint football allows you to have a football team without being in the NCAA division.
You’re not the only “Swoop” around. How do you feel about that?
From what I understand, the name came from a contest held years ago. I will just say that we’re the best Swoop there is. As far as we are concerned there is no other Swoop.
What is your sage advice to student volunteers looking to step into the costume?
I tell them to be 100 percent enthusiastic at all times, and to drink lots of water beforehand because the suit is hot. The biggest thing is if I see that a person is physically fit and enthusiastic and can jump and move and have fun, we’re willing to put them in the suit and give it a try. Students love it — a student just told me he was interested, but he’s 6’2” so he can’t fit in the suit.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the Swoop costume?
One time I had to drive from one part of the campus to the other in the costume and I was completely nervous, but nothing happened.
Fear of the furry suit
The biggest thing is that people do get scared, and it’s mostly adults. You have to know when to back up a little bit and wave hello and make a wide circle around them. I went up to this woman and asked if she was OK and she said she really hates costume characters. With kids, too. They can be very sensitive to these things. So, when I see a kid who is frightened I get down on my knee and see eye to eye and shake their hand.