Behind the mask of the Penn Quaker
The Penn mascot gives the DP the scoop on the ins and outs of the job
January 27, 2013, 11:29 pm·
Ceaphas Stubbs | DP
We sat down with everyone’s favorite mascot (under the condition of anonymity, of course), the Quaker, to get to know one of the men behind the comically oversized mask.
Daily Pennsylvanian: So, how exactly does one go about becoming a mascot?
The Quaker: The best way for new people is, in the beginning of the year, we’ll go around at the Student Activities Fair and the freshman picnic at Franklin Field, taking pictures with people and we sort of gauge their personality as we interact with them.
If they’re good, we have someone else quietly hand them a flyer for tryouts. But sometimes they just get handed down through friends.
DP: What’s the tryout process like?
TQ: It depends on the person. We usually have them get in the suit, walk around, see how they are, give us a dance, see how they interact with us [and] how they can get used to walking in [the suit]. It’s a very awkward thing to be in. You know, you’re larger than life, you see out of the mouth, it’s a very difficult process.
So if a person looks like they can get the hang of it, great. If not, then it’s unfortunate for them.
DP: So how many people do you usually have trying out to become the Quaker, and after you have your cutdowns, where do you go from there?
TQ: It depends on the year. Typically, we have a pretty small number try out … We have relatively few people because we’re pretty selective about inviting people to try out. It’s not like we have a giant sign that says: “Try out to be the Quaker!”
DP: Once you’re chosen, how do you work out who works what games and goes on road trips and such?
TQ: Usually, it’s whoever’s available. Certain games are bigger, like the Princeton football game … Usually it’s just whoever’s free or whoever wants to do it that week… As far as traveling, it’s sort of less desirable to travel because usually we’d only send one person, so you have to do the full game, which is exhausting.
DP: Everyone wants to know … What’s it like being in that suit for two hours at a time?
TQ: Awful. It’s terrible. So hot, it’s miserable. The walk back to the locker room after you’ve been in the suit for an hour and a half, two hours, there’s always 25, 30 people who want to take your picture and you want nothing more than to just get out of there.
But you have to stop, take pictures and smile with them, and it’s fun, but at the same time, you’re dripping sweat, you smell terrible. Overall, it’s a fun experience.
DP: What’s been your favorite moment as the Quaker so far?
TQ: Probably leading the football team out onto the field at Homecoming versus Princeton.
It was the first time I ran the flag out, and it was at Homecoming, so I was really nervous, but it worked out pretty well. Very difficult to carry the flag. It looks simple, but it’s a really tough process.
So I was glad that I didn’t fall, have my head come off, or anything like that.
DP: Going off that, what was your most embarrassing moment in the suit?
TQ: Easily when Miles Cartwright was running for a ball and I was standing on the sidelines, on NBC, national TV and he kind of runs into me accidentally and gets up under my head and it flies off into the stands. And I’m there, headless, just chilling in the suit on the sidelines.
[Cartwright] kind of covered me up and made sure that he didn’t leave until somebody got my helmet so nobody could see me, so that was pretty nice of him.
DP: Protecting your secret identity?
TQ: Yeah, Miles is a good guy.
DP: Last question — do you smile for pictures?
TQ: Yes. I always smile under the suit!