Some New York University students might not even know until graduation that the school has a mascot, but they always want a photo with the school's Bobcat, says Gaby Marano, 20, one of seven people on the New York University Mascot Team. She made the team at NYU and now helps pick new members, judging them on raw talent and how they might handle certain situations, whether a drunk fan or scared child. She talked to Metro about her responsibilities.
How did you start being the Bobcat?
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At NYU, I was walking around a club fair … and I saw the mascot head and I ran over, and I was like, ‘What is going on?’ … I auditioned, and I made it. The auditions were comprised of making a 90-second skit. You had to do the skit yourself, you couldn’t wear the costume, just to test your confidence and make sure you could do it. A big part of being a mascot is you can’t talk, so you have to use body language.
What makes a good mascot?
At auditions, we primarily look for raw talent, and that usually comes out when you’re very confident. The bigger, the better. Once you are on the team, we teach you more technique and the logistics and how to handle certain situations.
What kinds of situations?
A little kid who’s really upset, you don’t want to scare them, [or] if you have a drunk fan.
How would you handle that situation?
Bobcat security. We have shirts. It’s legitimate. Half the time they take pictures for you, and the other half they just make sure the performers are as safe as possible.
What do people not know about being a mascot?
I think one shocking piece of information is that we count as a varsity sport at NYU. We go to nationals. … There’s a whole society of mascots. We’re in touch, we talk, we try to get better every year.
What can you do to improve?
I would say practice makes perfect. There’s no perfect way to be the mascot, a lot of it has to do with the personality and how you’re trying to portray [the character]. Every mascot has a different character. What works for one suit might not work for another suit.
How would you describe your character?
I would describe a bobcat as fierce. We try to give him fierce and peppy and just a lot of confidence, a bit of swagger.
Do you think there’s anything different about being a mascot at NYU?
Even though people know about [NYU], our sports program might not be as famous. Whoever comes to the games knows. It would be nice to have a bigger crowd, but that’s another thing that we’re going to work on next year.
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison