Getting rowdy

Sophomore takes on mascot responsibilities


photo credit: Mallery Koehler

Real Raiders wear pink \\ Participating in the Pink Out game against North Garland, Nicole Soto interacts with the crowd as Rowdy the Raider. “I think that people should be more open to the idea of the cheerleaders and the mascot and join in on chants whenever they can, especially the easier ones, because our football players feed off of the crowd’s energy,” Soto said. The Raiders beat North Garland 47-26 Oct. 21.

writer: Maggie Volpi, Copy Editor

The Raiders. This moniker represents the pride and fighting spirit that unifies the school, a symbol brought to life by the school’s mascot, Rowdy the Raider. The mantle of being the mascot is not one taken lightly, however, as the role encompasses more than just putting on a costume. 

This school year, sophomore Nicole Soto dons the mascot suit and steps into the position of Rowdy.

“As the mascot, my role is to help with the ambience of the crowd, especially if it’s at a game or pep rally when people aren’t really into it,” Soto said. 

Soto is currently a cadet in JROTC, but she’s also had experience with other organizations that participate in the football games.

“I was a competitive, all-star cheerleader for over eight years, and I played football my freshman year,” Soto said. “I’m not playing football anymore so I’m not on the field, but being the mascot helps me tie those two in where I get to be close to the field, and I’m still technically a cheerleader.”

Colonel Brooks McFarland, who oversees the ROTC program, shares responsibility of the mascot with Mrs. Amy Tietjen, who coaches cheer. 

“We have this kind of natural alliance with cheer, pumping people up on the sidelines and doing other different things that support the team,” Col. McFarland said. “We kind of naturally integrated, so to me, it’s cool to have the mascot as someone out of Junior ROTC.”

During the fall, the duties of the mascot include participating in varsity football games and pep rallies. Additionally, on the mornings of football games, Rowdy visits elementary schools and opens doors for the children. 

“My favorite part of being the mascot is being a liaison between the ROTC spirit team and the varsity cheerleaders, to be able to hype up the crowd during games and just being able to have fun during pep rallies because I just kind of get to do my own thing,” Soto said. “I get to, as we say, ‘vibe it out.’”

However, being the mascot is not all fun and games; there are several challenges that come with the unique position such as dealing with the heat inside the costume, the weight of the mascot head and the fact that the head obscures the wearer’s vision.

“Running flags for touchdowns is ridiculously hard in the costume, especially during the later part of the football season when it’s really windy,” Soto said. “For people not in the costume, running flags is hard enough, so whenever you can’t see, it’s even harder.”

Soto remained mascot for the rest of 2022 and plans to try out for the position again this spring so she can continue to hype up the crowd in 2023.