Putting the swagger into Hink

Photo by Maria Porter

Butler University student by day, Hink the Bulldog by night.  The time has come to select two brave people to mask their identities and transform into the Butler mascot.

Mascot auditions are swiftly approaching.   Auditions will be split into two parts.  The first part is an interview conducted by spirit coordinator Jamie Troyer.

“As the mascot for the entire school, you represent Butler,” Troyer said. “I think it’s important for the interested students to really want the position.”

The second part of the interview consists of trying on the mascot suit and acting in front of the judges.  Troyer said she will watch how students move in the costume, react to fabricated situations and demonstrate school spirit.  She said experience is not a prerequisite for the job.

“Students can’t be expected to have experience as a mascot,” Troyer said. “Instead, we look for students with potential.”

Senior economics major Jerren Fair auditioned at the end of his freshman year.

“I tried out because I just thought it would be something fun to do,” Fair said. “The tryouts were pretty simple with an interview and trying on the costume.”

As a third-year mascot, Fair said he understands the character of Hink well.

“Hink has a different walk than any other person since mascots have to be animated,” Fair said. “It’s not hard to do, but you have to get used to it.”

Fair said the costume isn’t that heavy, but after an entire sports event, the bulky bulldog head can prove to give the shoulders and neck quite a workout.  While the costume doesn’t smell as awful as most people would suspect, Fair said he warns potential new mascots to watch what they eat before a big game.

“It doesn’t smell too bad once you’re in the costume,” Fair said. “You get used to it.  What you can smell is your own breath, so watch what you eat before.  Pasta or Qdoba is never good.”

Performing in front of thousands of people during basketball games has turned Fair into a seasoned mascot without wobbly knees or an accelerated heart rate.  But Fair said he still feels fairly ridiculous on occasion.

“It’s fun and exciting, but you usually feel pretty stupid doing it,” Fair said. “Hink is supposed to walk around with swagger, so you have to awkwardly reach your arms and legs as far as they will go.  I call it stretching out the bubble.”

Troyer and Fair both said the No. 1 rule as a mascot is to always remain in costume. Fair said he learned this lesson by experience.

“I was at a charity event in Zionsville in February when a little girl came up to give me a high five,” Fair said. “Her hand slipped under my glove, and she realized I wasn’t a real bulldog and freaked out.”

Troyer said that while about half of the children are terrified of Hink, the other half are completely enamored with the lovable, huggable puppy.

“It’s larger than the student,” Troyer said. “The mascots aren’t representing themselves as people because the audience doesn’t know who is inside the suit.  They represent Butler University.”

Mascot tryouts are scheduled Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Troyer said she expects about 10 students total to show up for auditions, and two will be chosen for the next academic year.

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