Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Teens learn to give mascots personality
By STEVE SNYDER
Lebanon Daily News
PALMYRA — Rooty, the Lebanon Cedar mascot, and one of his arch rivals, the Manheim Central Baron, have been engaging in some playful fun this week and learning how to do their jobs better.
Both are attending a three-day camp at Paramount Sports Complex which wraps up today.
Tonight both Rooty and the Baron, along with about 20 other campers, will perform at the Lancaster Barnstormers’ baseball game.
Abdiel Perez will be playing the part of Rooty tonight.
“Everyone loves Rooty,” he said. “We’re different than everyone else.”
By “different,” Perez meant that Rooty is a tree, not an animal or human or some cross between the two, like the Phillie Phanatic.
“Some of the other mascots say a tree’s not cool,” said Sylvana Quinones, another one of the five students who will be sharing duties as Rooty during the upcoming school year. “But we think he’s cool. Our school’s the Cedars, so we have to have a tree.”
Ashley Effrece, the third Lebanon student, all sophomores, to attend the camp, said each of the five has different talents, but they’ll all look the same when they are in costume.
“>You can’t distinguish who’s in the suit,” Perez said.
“If Rooty’s dancing, it’s me,” Effrece said.
“Rooty could be hyper one day and calm the next,” Quinones said of the student performers’ personalities.
“Rooty could be a boy one day and a girl the next.”
Each say the camp helped them play the role of Rooty.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Effrece said. “I never thought being a mascot was such hard work.”
“It’s definitely worth it,” Perez said. “They’re teaching us a lot.”
The camp is the brainchild of Erin Blank, who operates Lancaster-based Keystone Mascots, a company that trains mascots, helping with character development, acting skills, safety and costume care. Its Web site is http://www.keystonemascots.com.
Blank has a lengthy resume, including portrayals of PAWS of the Detroit Tigers, Coco of the Hershey Bears and Silo of the Lancaster Barnstormers. She was also the original Screwball of the Reading Phillies some 20 years ago.
“Personality plays a greater role than skill,” Blank told her student mascots yesterday after they took a break from tumbling and bouncing on a trampoline.
Campers came from as far away as Alabama.
Evan Bowker, a freshman from Oneonta, N.Y., will be his high school’s Yellow Jacket, Buzz.
“I wanted to change his name to Sting, but the fans didn’t like it,” said Buzz, er Bowker.
In addition to his mascot duties, Bowker wrestles and plays lacrosse.
Like Bowker, Phil Wubbolt is an athlete, playing basketball and volleyball when he’s not portraying the Baron during football games and wrestling matches.
At about 6-foot-2, Wubbolt is a tight fit for the Baron outfit, which might soon require some alterations since he’s just a freshman.
“I was recommended by the athletic director,” said Wubbolt, who beat out two other candidates to play the Baron because he can do push-ups.
That’s important because the Baron does a push-up for every point Manheim Central’s football team scores, which sometimes means a couple hundred in the course of a game. After all, 7+14+21+28+35 ... starts to add up to some serious pushups.
The three Cedars said the Baron has been making some unkind comments about Lebanon’s football team.
“We just tell him we kill them in basketball,” Effrece said. “It’s not even worth our time to play them.”
The two teams won’t be meeting in hoops the next two years, unless it’s in a Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff game, because Lebanon has moved back to Section Two while Manheim Central remains in Section Three; Lebanon has never lost to Manheim Central in boys’ basketball.
Rooty will just have to hope his or her Cedars can beat the Barons in football this season for the first time ever.
Team mascots learn their craft: Overacting
by MONICA VON DOBENECK, Of The Patriot-News
Thursday July 31, 2008, 4:56 PM
Wildcats, dogs, wolves, a rooster, Ben Franklin, a mad cow and other assorted creatures have been spending the week at Paramount Sports to learn how to express jubilation or shame without using facial expressions or voice.
It's not easy, according to several of the participants at Mascots Camp. "You have to be very dramatic," said Abdiel Perez, 16, who will be portraying a cedar tree for Lebanon High School football and field hockey teams come fall. "Somebody has to bring that extra energy, that spark."
Ellie Kranzel, 15, portraying a wildcat for Mechanicsburg High School, said if your team loses a point, you have to cover your head in shame, maybe stomp on the ground. She did this kind of thing last year for basketball, track and even the Brain Busters team.
"I've always thought, look at that job. It's such a good job," she said.
On Thursday, the students sweated in their costumes while mascot trainers Erin Blank and Charlton Jordan shouted out directions: "Walk in a macho way"; "Walk like a 3-year-old"; "Walk like a pregnant woman."
Blank gave the participants a story line to follow: "You're at a football game. Your team just made the first touchdown. Your team just won the game! But the referee says it doesn't count. You lose. And it's your fault."
Amy Amato, a senior at Lancaster's Franklin & Marshall College dressed as Ben Franklin, first pranced around gleefully and whipped off her jacket in triumph. As the news got worse, she stomped on her jacket, kicked the wall.
"It's good to learn how to express ourselves when trapped in these heavy costumes," she said later. "The costumes can be intimidating, but we need to encourage people. I feel it really helps raise school spirit."
While many of the costumed characters were high school or college team mascots, there were a smattering of commercial and other characters as well.
Matt Nissley, inside the mad red cow "Cylo," is the official mascot for the Lancaster Barnstormers professional baseball team. James Mathis, 17, represented an enzyme for Kline's Service Septic Repair. Father David Shoemaker, dressed as Blueregard the Supercat, is a Catholic priest from Eufaula, Alabama, who uses the character in his youth ministry.
Ben Rand, 18, of Harrisburg was dressed as a rooster for the Harrisburg Horizons basketball team, but his day job is a candy bar at Hershey Park. His dream career is to portray Chip, Dale or Pluto at Disney World, and he is taking theater classes at Harrisburg Area Community College to that end.
"That's what my heart is set on," he said.
Camp director Blank has spent most of her adult life as a professional costumed character, including stints with the Reading Phillies, the Detroit Tigers, the Washington Capitols, the Lancaster Barnstormers and the Hershey Bears. She cut back to start a family, but still coordinates and trains performers and makes costumes.
"I'm in the fifth generation of basketball coaches, but I didn't have the talent to play," she said. "I guess that's how I got into this."