The Lion Mascot Laces Up His Skates

October 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

With the Nittany Lions opening their first Division 1 hockey season in the brand-new Pegula Ice Arena tonight, a thought occurred to us: Can the lion mascot skate?

So we put in a call to Curtis White, adviser to the Nittany Lion mascot and the cheerleaders, and asked him a few questions about what they’ll be doing at hockey games. Here’s what we learned.

Will the lion and cheerleaders be involved in ice hockey games at Pegula?

They’ll be there tonight. In terms of “stunting,” it’s not like a football game, so we can only do minor things. But, for example, we’re hoping to have the lion and a couple of cheerleaders run out onto the ice carrying the big “We Are Penn State” flags at the beginning of the game.

IMG_084_Lion_on_ice

The Nittany Lion was on hand for the first-ever game at the former ice pavilion in 1981. Photo by Scott Johnson.

When you say “run out,” you actually mean “skate out,” right?

Right. They’ll be on skates.

Can the lion ice skate?

He can skate. He already had some skating ability, but he also took some ice skating lessons this summer near his home in Delaware, and he’s been working with someone up here that the ice hockey folks suggested.

Was skating part of tryouts for mascot candidates in the past?

No, not at all.

Will it be in the future?

Yes, that what we’re looking at doing. I don’t want to eliminate someone based on skating ability, but if they can skate, it’ll be a plus.

There aren’t many stoppages of play in ice hockey, just the intermissions. What can the lion and cheerleaders do at a hockey game?

This first game, we’re just going to feel it out. I contacted other schools that use cheerleaders at hockey games, and they gave us suggestions. The band will be there too, and we’ll feed off that. The lion might go out on the ice at some point and skate around a bit, but no skits yet. We’ll see how things go at the first game, and then see what we can do to make things better as the season goes on.

Where will the band and cheerleaders sit?

We’ll be in the middle of the student section.

Will we see the Lion driving the Zamboni?

He might not drive the Zamboni. But you might see him get dumped out of it. There’s a space inside the Zamboni where he can go in and hide, and during the club team’s games, he’d go in there and then get dumped out on the ice. The fans loved it.

Tina Hay, editor

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