What does it take to represent the Tribe as the new mascot, the Griffin? Spirit, stamina, and the ability to dance all afternoon in 90-degree weather. Last week, auditions were held at Kaplan Arena to choose two additional people to alleviate the demands of the Griffin. This new step in the life of the mascot comes after a rigorous search that began over a year ago.
Last spring, the Griffin was chosen from five finalists by a mascot committee to represent the College of William and Mary. With Colonel Ebirt ousted in 2005, the committee was looking to for a mascot that would serve as a distinguished replacement for the shapeless, albeit quirky, blob. It wasn’t an easy process; the committee plucked our feathered friend and four others from a list of over 800 entries, which included an asparagus stalk with cheese, Bricky the Brick, and of course, everyone’s favorite finalist, the Pug. With help from students, faculty and alumni, the committee finally chose the Griffin. According to the College website, the head of the eagle represents the United States, and the body of the lion symbolizes the College’s British roots.
With a mascot finally chosen, the next logical step was to choose someone to fill the Griffin’s large paws. Although someone already wears the costume for certain events, two apprentices were needed to meet the Griffin’s growing demand.
“The demand for Griffin appearances has been remarkable,” Spencer Milne, director of marketing, promotions and ticket services at William and Mary Athletics, said. “Appearances have been made at various on campus events including receptions, dinners and sporting events. The new mascot will also make an appearance at the first home football game this Saturday, which will be the first time many students see the Griffin in person.
Auditions for two Griffin apprentices were held by Milne last week in William and Mary Hall and lasted for two days. Applicants had to show off their ability to dance and act out scenarios without using words, as well as demonstrate their passion for the college. Although there were not many qualifications listed for being the Griffin, candidates have to be between 5’6” and 6” in height in order to fit the costume. Those trying out also needed to describe their past experiences in a costume, if any, as well as any special performance skills they might possess. Two apprentices were chosen from the pool of applicants based on their performance abilities, as well as on their abilities to inspire and motivate people.
One of the new Griffin apprentices, whose identity, according to Milne, must remain unknown, was proud to have been chosen to symbolize the school in such a unique, albeit anonymous, way.
“I thought it’d be cool,” the apprentice said. “It’s an awesome way to represent Tribe pride.”
The apprentices spoke about how the auditions were mainly about showing body language, and, of course, showing off their dancing skills. As the Griffin, these students are responsible for keeping the rest of the school pumped up at football games. The job requires a lot of stamina; jumping around in the hot sun for half an afternoon isn’t a job for the weary. The apprentices also have to meet once every couple of weeks to discuss new ideas for skits.
As for the choice of the Griffin as our new mascot, the apprentice said he or she was happy with the choice.
“I was skeptical at first,” he or she said. “But I learned to love the Griffin after hearing about why it was chosen because it showed our roots.” Milne agreed.
“I believe the Griffin is the perfect representation for William and Mary because of its connection to the history of the College,” he said.