The Herald-Zeitung (01/31/2006)
By Jessica Sanders
It’s almost like being Batman.
One New Braunfels resident is a soft-spoken college freshman by day and a party animal by night. Jerome, who asked that his last name be withheld, has been living a double life for almost a year now.
“It’s incredible,” he said with a grin. “I sit in class on Monday and hear people talk about all the crazy things the mascot did at the game. Nobody knows it’s me.”
Jerome’s alter-ego is Boko the Bobcat, mascot for Texas State University in San Marcos. Since Jerome became the man behind the mascot, he has revamped Boko’s image and is even sending the bobcat to Las Vegas for competition.
The United Spirit Association’s collegiate mascot competition will be held Saturday through Monday and will feature tough competition from across the country. Boko the Bobcat will face Sammy Bearkat from Sam Houston State University, the Duck from University of Oregon and the Bruin from University of California at Los Angeles.
Jerome knows the competition will be tough, but he feels well-prepared.
“From what I’m told, this is the best Boko the school has seen,” he said. “I practice just about every day. I’m always training, and I have a willingness to try new things.”
Jerome spent the summer training with the Silver Stars’ Fox and Tim Derk, the former Spurs Coyote. He is constantly adding new features to his performance, including juggling, unicycling, back-flipping and more. He tries to incorporate a skit into every game.
“This year, I’ve done the ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ dance, and I crowd surf at every game,” he said. “Now they hold up signs that say ‘Boko Crowd Surf.’ I’ve only been dropped twice.”
An exciting football season for Texas State helped make this year great for the new Boko. However, from Jerome’s mascoting history, it’s easy to see his commitment to pushing the envelope.
Last year, Jerome was Eugene the Unicorn at New Braunfels High School and became famous for jumping on the press box during the 2006 Wurst Bowl game. He recently repeated this crowd-pleasing stunt for Texas State fans.
“People told me there would be some big hooves to fill when I left,” he said. “This year, there are eight people trying out to be Eugene, so I’m really excited.”
Jerome still makes frequent visits to NBHS sporting events to watch the antics of Eugene and visit friends. This year, he will help train and select the school’s new mascot.
Bryan Miller, Texas State’s director of marketing and promotions, said Jerome’s creativity and professionalism have set him apart from past mascots.
“A lot of school mascots are just a random student willing to get into the suit,” Miller said. “He wants to be a professional, and he may have a better career plan than the rest of us.”
Jerome is currently studying mass communications, but his true passion is mascot science. He recently turned down an offer to be the mascot for the Atlanta hockey team.
He plans to get a college degree to fall back on, just in case professional mascoting doesn’t work out. However, his heart is set on a career on the sidelines. Studying with Derk, the most famous Spurs Coyote, has only focused his goals.
“Tim Derk was a mascot for over 20 years and has three championship rings under his belt,” he said. “Like him, I want to be a mascot until I can’t do it anymore. I want to be so good for so long.”