Calling all potential bulldogs!
The Butler University athletics department will be holding try-outs for the university mascot, “Hink,” today at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“The students just need to bring themselves and be dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes,” Spirit Coordinator Jamie Troyer said. “Be prepared to wear the costume.”
Hink, a fan-favorite, performs at all home football games and men’s and women’s basketball games as well as some home volleyball matches, Troyer said.
Hink also makes appearances at alumni events, pep rallies and off-campus events, such as charity fundraisers and wedding receptions.
Troyer said the Hink performers also attend a training camp in August and meet once a month for practices during the season.
“It is an active job where you’re wearing a big head and a furry costume,” she said.
Troyer said the Hink performers need to be up to the challenge of putting on the bulldog suit and good physical condition is a must.
“We want someone that is a huge Butler fan and has an excitement for Butler,” she said. “He or she has to be creative and outgoing when they are in the costume.”
A current Hink performer-whose job requires anonymity-said being able to improvise and separating yourself from the character is a necessary part of the job.
“You have to have really good impromptu skills and come up with stuff right on the spot,” the performer said. “It’s essential to be ready to entertain without any forewarning.
“As Hink, you should be prepared to make a fool out of yourself because even though you think you might look stupid, no one can see you so it does not matter.
“The mascot’s job is to entertain. You can’t be selfish.”
Though being the mascot is an enjoyable job, the performer said it is also sometimes really challenging.
It is hard to see or hear anything when inside the suit and the bulkiness makes it difficult to communicate and is physically exhausting, the performer said.
“The hardest part of being Hink is not being able to talk—sometimes communicating can be really difficult,” the performer said.
“You have to really exaggerate your motions to reach the crowd because your costume really absorbs the movements and people are far away.
“Then you have the heat where its anywhere from 20-30 degrees warmer in the suit—probably at least a 100 degrees during the games in Hinkle.”
Despite all this, the performer said it’s a great experience for someone full of school spirit and the events are all very rewarding.
“It’s fun because people don’t know your identity when in costume and you have free reign at all of the events—you can have a ton of fun and mess with people just because you’re Hink,” the performer said. “You become this character that is larger than life—especially to the kids.”
In regards to the mascot’s history, Troyer said Butler was known as the “Christians” until The Butler Collegian produced a front-page cartoon for the upcoming football game with the Franklin “Baptists” in 1919.
The cartoon featured a fraternity’s pet bulldog, Shimmy, taking a bite out of the pants seat of a figure labeled, “John the Baptist,” with the caption, “Bring on That Platter, Salome!”
She said though Butler ended up losing the game, the name “Butler Bulldogs” stuck and soon after the bulldog become an official university mascot.
The current Hink outfit is based upon a costume design The Walt Disney Co. created for Butler over twenty years ago, Troyer said.
While performers are expected to be outgoing and able to get the crowd pumped on the field and the court while in suit, performers are to remain anonymous.
Troyer said part of the reason behind the secrecy of the Hink performers identities is to make the mascot more realistic.
“We want Hink to be a character, and not the person inside the costume,” she said.
Anyone interested in being a mascot should contact Troyer before tryouts today by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troyer said they are looking for someone with, “a lot of energy and excitement for the school, and commitment and dedication to the performance side of it and development of the character.”