April 7, 2017 (Phoenix, AZ) - As the final buzzer rang in the desert of Arizona Monday night, the end of the college basketball season quickly followed. Many of the athletes on the court were already looking forward to the redemption tale of next season or celebrating their championship and preparing for the NBA draft. There were two more collegiate individuals whose seasons came to an end that night, Spike and Rameses. Unlike the athletes for their respective teams, these furry animals' futures are all but planned.
Michael Lawrie dons the mascot costume of Spike the Bulldog for the Gonzaga faithful and has for four years in a row. Much like most of Gonzaga’s athletes, Lawrie decided to stay in school the whole four years, although the thought of turning pro has always been alluring to him.
“Sure, the money of being a professional mascot has always been enticing, but I made a commitment to coach Few and the rest of the guys in that locker room,” Lawrie muttered through a giant furry bulldog face. “What will I do now that my collegiate career is over? Easy. Join the Choko Group, the Japanese school of mascots in Tokyo. If you really want to prepare for the pros, you go there and study the art under the best, Choko Ohira [pictured left].”
Lawrie then went into detail of the large sums of money he believed mascots made for major league sporting teams. Once confronted with the fact that most mascots work for a salary close to minimum wage, Lawrie seemed to become dejected.
“I guess I just always assumed… I mean NBA players make millions, are you sure the mascots don’t?” Lawrie said. “What about at, like, theme parks? Disney?”
On the opposite side of the court celebrating his team’s victory, but not getting too close to Power Forward Justin Jackson due to a bevy of unusually tolerant restraining orders, was Luis Delano, North Carolina’s mascot. As a senior as well, Delano is not in search of dollar signs but instead looking forward to keeping his heart on the sidelines.
After a game earlier in the season, Delano waved to his girlfriend, Shanna Redig, to come down to midcourt, where, still in his Rameses costume, he proposed. Redig appeared to hesitantly accept the proposal, but according to Delano has warmed up to a life of mascoting together.
“She was so surprised, I mean, right there at center court in the Dean Smith Center, while thousands of fans are making their way to the exits, feigning interest. It was pretty special,” Delano recalled. “Ever since I read her profile on MatchCot, I knew she’d someday be Mrs. Rameses.”
After their wedding in late summer, Delano and Redig will become the third married mascot couple in the NCAA. Mr. and Mrs. Wildcat were the first at the University of Arizona in 1998. The most recent nuptials were taken in an emotional ceremony between Mr. and Mrs. Wuf, that was, for no rational reason at all, officiated by Wake Forest’s mascot, the Demon Decon [Pictured in all its actuality to the right].
As the arena emptied Monday night, two student-furries gazed longingly in the cavernous stadium. One with his dreams of turning a prolific college mascoting career into wealth in the pros dashed, the other patiently waiting for his bride-to-be to stop making out with Power Forward Justin Jackson. Two very different roads were before them, but each with a similar path to their current spot in time. As Lawrie muttered while seemingly crying inside his costume, “They may be able to take you out of the mascot costume after allegedly stealing a box of Twinkies from a 7-Eleven that one night you ate too much of a pot brownie, but they can’t take the mascot out of you.”
Anthony Salerno is from Buffalo, New York. He is a current DCH student and performs with Ewing Troupe: Clementine. When he’s not working at Improv or his day job, he’s trying to talk himself out of buying Uncrustables at the grocery store.
(Top image: Hokies n Huskies. Middle image: Reuters. Bottom image: The Wolf Web.)