Training program required before Eau Claire’s mascot can suit up

Mascot coordinating conducts a training process for Blu applicants



The Blugold mascot poses on a motorcycle at the community event, National Night against crime, held in Owen Park.

Most UW-Eau Claire students recognize the signature blue-and-gold-colored bird that dances around on the football field – but many don’t think about the hurdles the anonymous student must first overcome to don the suit.

Before the Blugold mascot, better known as Blu, can entertain a crowd, the student inside must first complete mascot training.

Mascot Coordinator Eric Schreiner said applicants have to answer a series of questions created to get a sense of the applicant’s enthusiasm for the position. Then, Schreiner said applicants are required to dance to a song they haven’t heard before.

“When you’re performing you don’t get to pick the song that gets played,” Schreiner said. “You have to be able to do something and be on the spot 100 percent of the time.”

Schreiner, a senior criminal justice student, has been involved with Blu for three years now. As mascot coordinator he serves on the Student Senate staff under the marketing division.

Although this is the third year Blu has been entertaining at events, it’s the first year mascot coordinating has pursued this scale of recruitment, Schreiner said. In addition to the two students already trained as Blu, five others have been hired out of almost 20 applicants.

When hiring, Schreiner said he looks for people with ideas and willingness to improve the program.

“People could say they want to see Blu at more community events. Someone could say they want to see Blu on the moon,” Schreiner said. “As long as someone has an idea that they really care about and want to see happen.”

Blu’s active lifestyle can be physically demanding, Schreiner said, but the only physical requirement asked of applicants is their height be between 5’9’’ and 6’4’’ to fit the suit.

A couple criteria Blu’s performance is evaluated on include animation and portrayal of emotion. These are not the same thing, Schreiner said.

If something happens that makes Blu happy, Blu has to act hugely happy, Schreiner said. The same is true for when the mascot is surprised, upset or portraying any other emotion.

“To convey emotion to the crowd when you can’t talk, you need to make big emotions to do that,” Schreiner said.

On the other hand, animation is the overall excitement expressed. Schreiner said it’s similar to a cartoon character in the way every motion is animated, like going up and down stairs and high-fives.

“Every person needs to have an animation to every motion that they have,” Schreiner said. “The walk, it’s not just a regular walk.”

Schreiner said he wants to keep the students inside Blu as anonymous as possible within reason. Blu is not allowed to share his identity with his friends, with the exception of roommates.

At the parents night football game a couple weeks ago Schreiner said he ran into one of the new students he hired with their parents. When Schreiner was talking with the student he said he realized they hadn’t told their parents about their position as Blu.

“He took it a little too literally, but it was funny,” Schreiner said.

Blu has attended almost 70 events this year, Schreiner said. He said he hopes to do as many diverse events as possible, which is why Schreiner said he is still looking to hire more students who have big-picture ideas for Blu.