Davidson's mascot Mr. Cat, whose energetic efforts to fire up the crowd were always executed in obscurity inside his furry suit, was unmasked at the final men's basketball game of the year. The crowd responded warmly to his introduction, and then more loudly as the Cat unexpectedly removed his head. It was an emotional moment for Kameron Block '17, who represented the entire Wildcat nation for three years. We talked with Kameron about his experiences inside the suit.
What was it like when you took off the head at that last game?
When they called and said they wanted me to be recognized with others on senior day, I was really touched. The announcer at the game said, "We'd also like to thank Kameron Block," and when I began to take my head off, everyone cheered pretty loudly, and some people even gave me a "standing O." It made me proud for what I've done. You put so much into being the cat, but no one knows who you are.
How do you learn to be a mascot?
Mainly through experience. My first year I did every football game and every men's and every women's basketball game. That was eight or more hours a week–a lot of time to get used to the costume and see what works and what doesn't. I just did what my gut told me was right.
Were there any instances inside the suit you'd like to forget?
Before each home game I lie down on the court and pretend I'm taking a nap when the opposing team is introduced. It was early in the season and I wasn't used to the head and could barely see anything. I lay down thinking I was somewhere at center court. But after the second visiting player was introduced, I could see he just stepped over me. I realized then I was lying just about in their huddle! That was pretty embarrassing.
Did you have a "finest hour" during your years as mascot?
That would be the Davidson versus Pittsburgh game in Madison Square Garden my junior year. Mascots get to bring along a handler to help with their costumes, and I arranged for my father to be mine. You have to understand that I'm from Manhattan and my dad has been taking me to Knicks and Rangers games in the Garden since before I could walk. It was so cool to be with him right on the floor, rather than way up in the stands where we usually sit. Dad helped me put on my suit as it got closer to game time, and I got ready for my traditional half-court shot attempt before the teams came out. The management said it would be okay for me to take the shot, so I took it and made the shot! The crowd erupted. In fact, the video of that shot was the lead college sports item on "Sports Center" that night. Davidson didn't win the game, but it was a blast being courtside and dancing in Madison Square Garden, one of my favorite places in the world.
What advice do you have for Wildcat wanna-be's?
Be big, and be brave. No one knows who's inside the suit, so just dance your heart out. Anything you do is going to look good. Even if you're not a good dancer, it's still a cat dancing, which is inherently funny. As long as you're active and try to go all out, people will respect it.
Do you have suggestions for engineering a better mascot suit?
The lighter the body the better, because it gives you more mobility and keeps you from getting so hot and sweaty. Small paws that fit like gloves are good, too, because they allow you to use your hands. I used to dribble a basketball and spin it on my finger, and I was able to do handstands and try those half-court shots. Moves like that would be harder in big mittens. Also, you want to make sure the head fastens securely because you don't want it flopping around as you jump up and down.
Has life changed since your big reveal?
I got a lot of love from people, and was finally able to post a picture of myself in the suit to Facebook.
Kameron Block '17 is an English major who plans to move back to Manhattan after graduation this May to pursue employment in the field of public relations.