Game 053: at Delaware 76, William & Mary 47Saturday, February 6, 2005
Bob Carpenter Center - Newark, DE
As the second half of a CAA second-division blowout wore sadly on, I pulled out my Sony digital camera and began snapping the traditional round of atmospheric pictures that make up such a large part of this website. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted YoUDee
, the Delaware
Blue Hens' indefatigable namesake, standing about 25 feet away to the right. Knowing how much readers love seeing mascot shots, I clicked away.
But the hen he swung around, his eyes met mine. YoUDee's fearsome foot-claws tore a wide swath through the end bleachers as he approached. Let me tell you, friends, I feared for my life. But just as he raised his giant blue wings, he pantomimed an oversized box camera and pressed down on the invisible shutter. I exhaled deeply; I would live another day.
Sharon Harris is Delaware's official Mascot Coordinator, a title which only the lucky few can print on their business cards. She's got a lot to coordinate, too. YoUDee is a rising star in the mascot world, booking national appearances
and scooping up awards wherever he goes. But as he flaps his wings and ascends into the rarified air of mascot immortality, YoUDee hasn't left the good folks of Delaware behind. He's always available for parties, weddings and special functions, just a YoUDeeGram
I asked Sharon what it takes to climb inside the YoUDee suit. "An individual must be a full-time undergraduate student," she said. "They must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and go through two days of tryouts. We look for school spirit, enthusiasm, creativity, energy, physical ability and overall performance ability. Each year the team attends an annual UCA summer mascot camp, and new members are required to attend a national mascot boot camp."
Hmmmm, mascot boot camp. Why isn't that
a reality show? I'm sure the real thing is tougher than those commercials featuring the Capital One All-America Mascot Team and the inimitable Kenny Mayne. YoUDee was added to the squad in 2003.
But YoUDee's greatest honor so far has been his Mascot Of The Year title, which he earned from the Universal Cheerleaders Association in 2002. Gaining the UCA's nod is considerably more difficult than winning those popularity contests you see on websites in March. "Each mascot is responsible for putting together a 1 1/2-minute skit," Sharon explained. "It's judged on crowd interaction, prop usage, creativity, animation, enthusiasm and overall impression. The year YoUDee won, clips of his performance were televised on ESPN."
And for those brave souls who are worthy of inhabiting YoUDee, there is a road of rewards that extends far beyond the University's Newark campus. Instead of having to play out their adulthoods in grey cubicles like the rest of us, some YoUDee alumni never have to leave the world of fur and feathers behind.
"Currently we have alums who perform as the Philadelphia Eagles' Swoop
, the Baltimore Ravens mascot, the Houston Rockets' Clutch
and Raymond Entertainment Group's Reggie," said Sharon. "Other past performers include the NBA's Washington Bullets (now Wizards) and NHL's Washington Capitals, as well as others who have performed as semi-pro baseball mascots."
And then, Sharon allowed me into the secret corridors and passageways beyond time, space and the Bob Carpenter Center... into YoUDee's private world. She afforded me a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that I'd never thought I'd experience: the chance to interview a giant blue chicken.TMM: Hey, YoUDee. My wife and I were in the end stands the other night, and you caught me trying to snap a picture. You came over and messed around with us. I'm really sorry if I seemed like some paparazzi guy, it's just that you're so cute. Ummm, is "cute" okay, or do you prefer "strikingly beautiful" or maybe "dashingly handsome?" YoUDee:
I love interacting with my fans. Especially the little ones. I guess I'd prefer to be called dashingly handsome. You can just say that I'm fun, adventurous and overall... amazing. I think that would cover me pretty well.TMM: I've seen you dunk a basketball - it's a majestic sight to see, with your blue feathers trailing in the air. Where'd you learn moves like that, anyway? YoUDee:
I'm somewhat a natural born athlete. I learn from watching and studying what our basketball players do on the court when they are facing their competitors. And, as we all know, practice makes perfect. I often go to the gym with some of my fellow hens and we work on our dunking techniques. TMM: YouDee, you do hundreds of YoUDeeGrams a year, it must be exhausting. What's your diet and exercise regimen, how do you keep in such great shape? YoUDee:
YoUDeeGrams are so much fun! They allow me to go visit people of all ages and share my happiness with my greatest fans! What's the secret to my great figure? Well, I drink lots and lots of water. I must stay hydrated at all times. But working out? There's usually not time for me to workout on a regular basis. I'm such a busy hen! My services are typically needed every day of the week all over the University of Delaware's campus... which means I am getting a great HEN workout at all times. TMM: The Official Wife Of The Mid-Majority™, who knows a thing or two about hair stuff, is convinced that you need to use some sort of product to keep your comb so perfectly styled and perfectly Pantone blue. Is it just a natural thing, or do you have to put some work into it? YoUDee:
Ummm... "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." Please relay that message back to your wife. TMM: Check. You have quite the family history, stretching all the way back to your Revolutionary War hero great-great-great grandad Colonel George W. YoUDee. Any other distinguished members of your family tree? YoUDee:
There's my younger sibling Baby Blue
... who just loves to walk in my shadow.TMM: So what's your relationship like? Does Baby Blue give you any trouble?YoUDee:
Trouble??? No trouble really. Once in a while we just get into little sibling rivalries, but that's normal! Baby Blue tries best to show off it's TRUE BLUE spirit at the University, but of course my spirit is over-powering! I think I should be nominated for Most School Spirited... who else deserves it more than me?TMM: Can't think of anyone off the top of my head, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I know you could easily beat the crap out of me. So is life in the Colonial Athletic Association any different than the years previous, when the Hens hoopsters were in the America East? Any new friends in the mascot community due to the move? YoUDee:
I'm easy-going and laid back. I have lots of furry friends in the mascot world. Often feuds are "staged" with the opposing team's mascot, there's no harm done, we're just trying to have a little fun!TMM: Where do you keep all your trophies? You sure have a ton of them. YoUDee:
Some of my trophies are cased in the lobby at the Bob Carpenter Center, others that have been just recently awarded are in trophy cases at the Carpenter Sports Center, better known as "The Little Bob."TMM: What's been the proudest moment in your life so far? Was it the Hens' 2003 Division I-AA football championship? Being named mascot of the year?YoUDee:
That's a tough one. I have had many proud moments in my career as the Fightin' Blue Hen. Just being a part of this spectacular University has made me proud. Experiencing the football championship in Chattanooga was amazing. I have never felt so much adrenaline rushing through my body in my life. I brought all my team spirit with me. I think that all of our fans, players and cheerleaders contributed to our win that day! The crowd was unbelievable. You had to see it to believe it!
Now... being named mascot of the year was perhaps the single most unforgettable experience of my life. I was happy to be recognized for all my hard work and efforts. There is so much work that goes into mascotting that no one in the "real world" knows about. TMM: Actually, some of us consider you guys to be the ones living in the real world, we're the fictional characters. But thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Any closing thoughts, or special messages for the kids out there? YoUDee:
I like to end most interviews, saying... Fear The Bird. But, if this is a message for children, I can't end like that. I know that I have many fans, but, I, myself, am a fan of the dedicated kids who come out to support me! I want to take this time to thank all my fans, especially the children for their love and support! Okay... I have to say it... FEAR THE BIRD! :)TMM: Alright, alright! I fear the bird! Please don't hurt me! I'm weak and scrawny, and no match for your terrifying wings and beak! I'm the real chicken here!But seriously, YoUDee, thank you so much for this opportunity. I'm a huge fan. Even though I went to Drexel. Ummm... uh-oh, I don't think I should have said that...Photo Gallery