CLARION, Pa.- So You Think You Can Ernie auditions for positions as Clarion University’s Ernie the Eagle mascot were scheduled because “he” needs a fresh set of role-players as many of his current portrayers are graduating in the spring of 2017.
Unexpectedly , no Ernie-hopefuls came to try out at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 23. Facilitators of the auditions said they had expected at least five students to come, but concluded that the event may not have been widely publicized.
Tevis Bryant, the faculty coordinator of the mascot program, called Ernie “the epitome of Clarion, the mission statement embodied into a physical character.”
The eagle is the “face of the University,” added Rachel Hansrole, an Ernie handler at events. Hansrole helps to guide the student in the Ernie costume and takes pictures for people who want a photo with the bird.
Dwayne Pauly, student coordinator of the mascot program said that Ernie inspires “school pride.” Brennan Baker, another member of the Ernie team agreed: “The reason I got into Ernie is because I love this school.”
Ernie is a staple at many campus events including football games, admissions days, homecoming and recognized student organizations’ events. Bryant encourages members of RSOs to fill out a request form on CU Connect to have Ernie make an appearance at their events.
Bryant is most looking forward to Ernie’s upcoming presence at homecoming and the Autumn Leaf Festival the weekend of Sept. 30. He sees this as time that brings together the university and the community of Clarion. He is excited about how this connection can be improved in coming years.
Members of the Ernie team said that they have met many students who would like the chance to be Ernie at event but are unable because of height or size restrictions. Other requirements Bryant listed for the position are to “try to entertain us without using words, be enthusiastic [and] flexibility.”
“I think people [who play Ernie] actually enjoy just being someone else that they’re not. Behind the mask it’s like no one knows it’s me [and they can] get loose,” said Hansrole.
Hansrole speculated on the popularity of performing as Ernie. The other student members of the team concurred that the ability to be silly while hiding behind a mask makes Ernie a coveted role. Bryant added that it is “probably one of the more enjoyable student employment opportunities on campus.”
The Ernie team intends to meet to reschedule auditions which will most likely take place in the spring semester. However, Bryant welcomes contact at any time from students who would like to step into the role of Clarion’s mascot. He can be reached at (814) 393-1782, firstname.lastname@example.org or in 267 Gemmell. The team encourages students to like Ernie’s Facebook, CU Ernie Eagle, and follow him on twitter and Instagram @CUErnieEagle.