Tomorrow, I'm off to the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg to sit in on a special training session just for high school mascots. This is a first for our Student Leadership program, which is hosting event in conjunction with our annual CheerLeadership Camp. Nearly 600 students from all over the state are attending this week's session on cheer technique and leadership training.
Although just six students registered for the mascot class, it will be interesting to be a part of the training, led by a member of the National Cheerleadership Association (who, I believe, was herself a former NCAA mascot). This goes beyond fun dance moves and chants. In recent years, mascots have become prominent reps for schools, taking on more of a leadership role. (Did you know, for example, that WSU's own Butch the Cougar won Capital One's National Mascot of the Year? Or that there is a Mascot Hall of Fame? The 2007 Mascot of the Year, MSU's Sparty, is at right.)
Professional sports teams have always relied on their mascots to be goodwill ambassadors. Why not middle and high schools?
The goal of this week's training, according to Susan Fortin, AWSP's director of student leadership programs, is to help these students develop their own leadership skills and find ways to be a positive force at school. Hope to have some photos of the students posted to the site tomorrow or early next week.