You see him at every football game, but who’s behind the mask? I sat down with this individual to find out what it’s like to be the Graceland mascot.
Is it hard to keep being the mascot a secret? It’s really not hard keeping it a secret. Any family or friends of mine that know make sure to keep it on the down low.
What is it like in the head? The head of the suit gets to be pretty hot as you could imagine. There’s actually a small fan in the top to help keep me cool, but it still stays pretty toasty in there. Seeing out of the head is also pretty hard. My vision is pretty limited in there and it’s even harder when the sun is shining in my eyes or it is dark out.
What was your first experience as Sting like? The first time I ever put on the suit, it was for the cheer team photos during preseason. No one had shown me how to properly put on the suit beforehand, so I ended up not putting it on right. Along with that, I had to have my coach help me walk outside because I was getting used to walking in the suit and having very limited vision. It made me wonder how well I was gonna be able to entertain people with being so hard to move in, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.
How did you get to become Sting? During my visit to Graceland University, I asked if they had anybody to be the mascot because I was interested in the position. They said they didn’t have a set person for it and would really like to have a person who could do it all the time, so after talking over the next few months with several people, I became the official Graceland University mascot.
How do you decide what you’re going to do while you’re performing? Whenever I’m at games or events as Sting goofing around and dancing, it’s really just a lot of improvisation. I’ll try to think of some things I can do before it is time to suit up and will occasionally watch videos of other mascots to get ideas, but other than that, I just do a lot of stuff on the spot. I just try to be energetic and fun, and something that the crowd can enjoy. I have previous dance experience, so that’s been a big help with being Sting and part of the reason why I felt I would be good at the job.
How does it feel to interact with little kids as Sting? Interacting with little kids is one of the [most fun] parts of the job. Whenever there are kids around, they always react in one of two ways. They either run over and high five and/or hug me, or they get scared and start crying and screaming. I try to be as friendly and welcoming as I can to the kids who aren’t really sure what to think of me. There’s always a group of kids though that will come right up to me and high five me and get pictures, and that’s always a fun time.
What is the worst part of the gig? The worst part about the job would have to be how tiring and sometimes uncomfortable it is. As much fun as being Sting can be, it really takes a physical toll on you as well as a mental toll. Two hours is about the longest amount of time I can be in the suit before I need to take a break. As you can imagine, it can get so hot in the suit, and when you’re dancing around trying to entertain people, you’re just left sweaty and exhausted by the time you get out of it. Also, being called a bee and not being able to talk to correct people gets kind of old.
What is the best part of the gig? The best part of being Sting is just seeing how happy and excited people and kids get when I come out as Sting. My absolute favorite memory of being Sting is when I was working at the Special Olympics at Graceland. All of the participants were so excited to see Sting, and a lot of them would come up and hug me and talk to me. Obviously I couldn’t talk, but I communicated through hand gestures as best I could.
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