The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

A Sit Down with the New Bates Bobcat

Dave Ernst
National Selfie Day with the Bates Bobcat (as portrayed by Social Media Specialist Dave Ernst) around campus.

The Student had the opportunity to meet and interview the Bates Bobcat. 

How did you come to be the new mascot? Were you selected or did you volunteer? Did you always dream of being a mascot?

Yeah! So basically between freshman and sophomore year I had this idea that it would be a really fun activity to try to work my way up to becoming the bobcat. I had no idea where to go for that, so sophomore year I emailed around, but I couldn’t get in touch with the right person. But, this local lewiston hockey team called the Nordiques needed someone to be their mascot, and they said that they usually make one of the 16 year old boys do it because… they’re like… unpaid, but I was like, yes! I’ll do that! So, I did a brief stint there as Freddie the Yeti, which was super fun. Then, after that, my friend’s high school needed a mascot for their senior day, so I got to do that. And after I was abroad during my junior fall, I was like, ok, now I have some experience. I emailed a bunch of people in the athletic department saying I was super interested, and that I really wanted this as a sort of side quest, and they were like okay and I signed myself up.”

Did you meet any of the other bobcat mascots? Have you been given any sage advice that’s helped you to adjust?

“I hadn’t met anyone before me. But I have this mutual friend on the basketball team who set up a meeting so that we could chat.We didn’t know each other at all, but it was just so that we could share some insight on how it all worked. We’ve become super good friends from the process of both “Bob-catting”. And it’s just a really fun thing to do, because now if one of us is doing it, then the other one will be the handler.” The Handler is in charge of walking around the Bobcat during games.

How do you prepare for a game or get the crowd hype?

“I usually wait until the crowd is already hype. That way I can just run around… and people also like to take pictures with the bobcat, so I can just stay open for anything.” 

Do you ever get performance anxiety? Do you think there’s room for fear in your line of work?

“There is room for fear, but I don’t experience it too much because a lot of people don’t know it’s me. It gives you this false confidence because you can go out and do those dance moves that you would never show to anyone else. It’s just an animal, so it doesn’t really matter and there are no social consequences. It’s kind of fun to just get up in front of a crowd that I wouldn’t be in front of as myself.” 

As the newest Bobcat, is it difficult maintaining your secret identity? Do you ever have to lie to friends or classmates, or make excuses for “unforeseen” absences?

“I would say that the people who do know that it’s me will be in the stands calling my name, and I’ll be like ‘shh’. But, other than that, people don’t really ask. At first I was like, maybe I’ll be totally secretive…but then I ended up telling some of the people around me. I’m already thinking that when I graduate in the Spring, I’m going to do a little reveal. I sort of try to keep who knows in control. Sometimes people will tag me in Instagram posts and I’ll be like ‘no, don’t give it away.’”

 As someone whose job is to hype up Bates students, who do you feel is hyping you up when you’re in the mascot costume?

“Oh definitely my friends. They always hype me up every time I do it. They always want to be at games, even if they’re not too into the sport. I have my friend who’s one of the other bobcats. Not  many people can relate to that feeling, but we can always chat about it and do things together. This year we got to do a promotional collab where the Bobcat tried a whole bunch of different sports and it was just a really fun bonding activity. She inspires me to bring the energy every time because she’s just super energetic as the Bobcat.”

There seems to be a rise in stealing rival school’s mascots. What would you do if someone tried to steal you?

“I think it might be easier to steal me. Because a real bobcat might be super nimble, and I think they could probably pretty easily snag me. As for what I would do, I think I’d just vibe…I’d probably end up befriending their mascot.” 

The Bobcat is a well-loved symbol to have at games around campus. Have you ever been double-booked by teams? How did you handle it?

“It only happened once. Usually I don’t go to whole games though, because it is a lot of time in the suit and there’s only so much hype that a crowd can get. There was a hockey game where they asked me to be there and I was planning on going for an hour. But then the soccer team also had their senior game. I wanted to be able to go to both, so leaving from one game I ended up just walking in my suit to the soccer game. So, it all worked out in the end.” 

Finally, what has being the bobcat so far taught you as an individual?

“Definitely to be confident and to just jump into things. Like it’s such a goofy thing that I feel like for the rest of my life I’ll be able to be like I was the Bobcat. Maybe also to just be less afraid to be silly in front of a crowd…and just say ‘hey’ to everyone and just not take anything too seriously. And also school spirit has given me a new passion, for not necessarily just sports, but also going to events in general and just being present.” 

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