UC Magazine featured all sorts of tales from inside the Bearcat suit in the sports section of our May 2009 issue. Now it's your turn. Below are submissions from readers who have slipped into the furry, sweaty and sometimes smelly suit over the years.
Readers share their mascot memories
Swimming in sweat
I was the mascot for two years back in the late '70s, sharing duties performing at games with others. One day in early September, it was over 100 degrees on the field. One of my colleagues was working the suit that day, while I was in the stands sitting with friends.
It's important to realize how different the suit was in those days than now. It had a heavy fiberglass head of a different design, and the body was made of a very heavy fur-like substance. It reeked. My mother may have been the only one who ever laundered it.
So the bearcat went on with his usual antics, working up quite a lather in the suit. Halfway through the second quarter, he passes out. So of course, they are frantically looking into the stands for a replacement. I'm trying to hide. No way I want to get in that suit now. My friends, of course, had the opposite response. They were gleefully pointing me out as the other mascot available.
I couldn't very well say no once I was found. So I climbed into the suit, swimming in another's sweat. My gag reflexes were working overtime. But after about 10 minutes, I got used to it and went out and finished the game. But as a penalty to my friends, I went into the stands to hug and kiss and share the fluids with them. A fond memory.
Donald Poynter, DAAP '78
A furry bride
We had two Bearcats in the late '70s. I was the girl Bearcat mascot in 1976-77 that got married to the guy mascot for Homecoming at the student union bridge at noon.
The cheerleaders were the bridesmaids, and the captain gave me away. A law professor performed the ceremony, and a reception was held that evening for all the university to attend at a big dance. I have pictures from the event, and it was huge news. The union clock chimes rang at 12:00 to start the procession over the bridge and many students were witnesses. It was history making!
Denise Gardonio, Ed '77
Chair sledding is born
I have so many great memories of the Bearcat because I was a cheerleader and one of my close friends was the Bearcat for over three years. From 1997-2001, the Bearcat did some pretty crazy and amazing things.
This was the time period when sledding with the chair down the stands in Shoemaker was started, usually at women's games because the men's games were always sold out and he couldn't do it then.
I remember one home football game when he created a toilet paper-thrower out of a leaf blower! He had the whole student section covered in T.P.! I remember right before halftime of a pretty big basketball game. Can't remember if it was '99 or '00, but we had pretty good teams both those years. It was late in the season and we were in a pretty heated C-USA game that was going to determine the league champ. Must have been U of L or Charlotte or a big rival. There was a controversial call right at the halftime buzzer and the Bearcat came out and was really giving the ref a hard time, but the ref knew it was all in good fun.
A few members of the Athletic Department didn't see it that way, and they ran on the court and quickly escorted the Bearcat off the court. The fans were none too happy that the Bearcat was taken away, so they began chanting for him. Much to their delight, he returned to a standing ovation at the end of halftime! There are many, many more, but these are just a few.
Nathan Baughman, A&S '01
No better mascot than a Bearcat
As a 30-plus year UC employee, a supporter of athletics and an alum, I have always thought UC had the BEST mascot. I was especially thrilled when he showed up at my retirement party with roses, though.
It was special and I really appreciated it. He even signed the giant card, "B.C."
Julie Flammer, Eve '99
Mascot memories don't fade
I was the first female bearcat, during the 1975-76 school year. I performed with a big red bow on my costume, and was at every home football game, Homecoming and most of the basketball games.
That year, the basketball team went to Lawrence, Kan., for the NCAA quarterfinals! I loved being the girl bearcat, and I talk about that experience to this day! We live in Louisville now, and I actually have a friend who was the Louisville Cardinal mascot. So the rivalry still lives on! Thanks for the great article! I loved it!
Debbie Nadler Friedman, Bus '76