Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mascot Mania and More

OK, I admit it. Nobody loves a good mascot more than I do. I bow at the alter of the Phillie Phanatic. I lament the demise of the San Diego Chicken. I squeal at the sight of the Oregon Duck.

So the NCAAs at Maples was a treat, not just because of the great basketball, but because of the appearance of Big Red, the Hilltopper from Western Kentucky. I have been captivated by that thing since the 1992 Final Four, but have never been in the same Arena since.

It got me to thinking--what is it? Google failed to give much of an answer--just this: Big Red was born in 1979 and was the brainchild of a WKU student named Ralph Carey. Rather than have a Hilltopper costume (anyone associated with WKU is a Hilltopper because the campus sits on a hill), it plays off of the primary WKU color. Legendary basketball coach E.A. Diddle was famous for waving a red towel on the bench during games.

Other sites are not so generous on the origin, suggesting that Big Red is the love child of the Kool Aid Kid and Oscar the Grouch, but that did not deter my excitement when the little blob hit the floor. I spent a lot more time watching BR's antics than I did the game.

At which point, Judy says to me "we're going to get our picture taken with it." A shudder went up my back. This always happens and I hate it. I feel like a real goober trying to get access to the mascot involved and then trying to get someone to take the picture. I crab, I complain, I say my phone's battery is running out--nothing works, though, once Judy has her mind set.

So we waited until halftime and struck when BR came back after what I presume was a potty break. "Oh, Mr. Hilltopper, Mr. Hilltopper. Can we have a picture?" Can you believe two grown women acting in such a manner? The little thing turned and acted delighted, well, I think it was delighted--how can you tell? One of the cheerleaders was more than happy to take the photo and we managed to get done before a security guard could scurry us away.

I know I said I hate it, I hate it, but now that I have it, I love it!

Emboldened by our success, Judy set her sights on Monday night. I put my foot down firmly--NO OSKI!--but was pursuaded to pose with the Father of our Country--it seemed like the patriotic thing to do.

George was happy to pose (I think)and our Eileen was passing by and took the photo. There were no signs of wooden teeth and GW smelled good--a real oddity in Mascotville. When I asked him about the upcoming election, he just smiled--oh, wait, he always looks like that.

What could have been better than all this?

Oh, just a little thing called Stanford Basketball! Speaking of legendary characters, I am ready to add Candice Wiggins to Mount Rushmore right now! How often do we hope for a storybook game, wanting everything to be glorious because it is some sort of last time? And how often does it ever happen? Hardly ever, but Monday night was a rare night where the stars aligned and Candice delivered. As terrific as Jayne's performance was on Saturday (heck, she might have gone for
50 had she been in longer), Candice's night was one for the permanent memory bank. I always thought that the fact that Ted Williams hit a home run in his last major league at bat was just the perfect way for him to exit Fenway Park, but I think, for me, CW surpassed that with her last game at Maples.

And kudos to Tara for leaving her in a little longer than she might normally, just so that we could have a few more gasp-worthy moments. I suspect that Coach was reveling in the moment herself.

There is a great quote--"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we
take, but by the moments that take our breath away." Anyone who was there will remember those breathless moments for a very long time.

1 comment:

  1. You weren't the only one captivated by the Hilltopper mascot. Sitting in the balcony with their teammates after their win over Cleveland State, Cissy and Michelle were obviously tickled by him. They kept laughing, pointing and imitating his belly-shaking.
    May their smiles carry them to Tampa.