Ball State University, Indiana
August , 2004
Doug talked about his days as BSU basketball mascot, Charlie Cardinal
ALUMNUS: What made you decide to try out for Charlie?
DJ: I had been watching Charlie evolve for my first 2 years at Ball State. My freshman year, he was just a cardinal head on a guy in a "B" sweater and white pants. By my sophomore year, the rest of the body was now all bird suit, and I saw so much potential for what this character could do. I guess I just wanted to add my own brand of humor and dancing around to the mix ... not to mention my long, very skinny legs - perfect bird legs in yellow tights. And with my background as a mime, I wanted to meet the challenge of becoming a fun-loving, entertaining mascot for BSU.
ALUMNUS: What was the process like? Were you nervous, why or why not?
DJ: Oh yeah, I was nervous. At 20 years old, and not having a whole lot of interviewing experience, I was still at that awkward stage of being terrified that someone out there might actually not like me. Surprisingly, it was only an interview with no physical sort of audition. I was at a conference table with a few cheerleaders and a few members of the Blue Key Club. Well, my fears dissipated rather quickly when I noticed that every little thing I said or did in that interview turned into uproarious laughter. They were very kind to put up with my tom-foolery that day, and even kinder to give me the role of Charlie for basketball season of my junior year. Thankfully, I made enough of an impression to be asked back as basketball Charlie for my senior year as well.
ALUMNUS: What years were you Charlie?
DJ: My junior year (1980/81) and my senior year (1981/82)
ALUMNUS: What kind of characteristics must a potential Charlie have?
DJ: It might be helpful to have some cardinals in the family tree. Ok, that wasn't funny, was it. But seriously, Charlie must have NO inhibitions. A good sense of physical humor will come in very handy, along with a good sense of rhythm for doing "something" whenever that band kicks in. He also needs to be in good cardiovascular shape to keep the character "up" for a couple of hours while sweating like a pig. He also needs to love people, and have a lot of patience with tail-grabbing children and less-than-pleasant fans of opposing teams.
ALUMNUS: What was the best and worst part of being Charlie and why?
DJ: The best part for me was representing my school in a fun and entertaining way. I loved the fans, both young and old. I also loved the team experience with some fantastic cheerleaders and a basketball team that won MAC championships AND went on to NCAA playoffs for the first time ever. It was an exciting era, and an honor to be a part of it all. And the worst part? … the heat! I was always a drenched mess at the end of every game.
ALUMNUS: Do you have any funny stories to share?
DJ: I always used to mess with the guys who swept the court at half time, and one time I was waiting for a sweeper in the middle of the court with a sort of "bring it on" attitude. As he got to me, I hopped over the wide mop base, but the pole ran right into my private region, if you know what I mean. The crowd went kooky with laughter.
Another thing I did every game was dance in the middle of the court with a little 9 year old girl, whose parents never missed a game. She knew the routine, as we always locked hands, spun around and around until she could lift her feet up and fly around me from the centrifugal force, our hands still tightly clasped together.
Well … there we were at the MAC conference playoffs in Ann Arbour, Michigan, and to my delight, this little girl, who must have made the trip with her parents, came running up to me during a quarter break yelling, "Charlie!! Dance with me!!" So dance we did in this huge arena with thousands of onlookers, but when the time came for our big trick, we didn't have the usual hand grip. She was so excited, she picked her feet up early, before I could get her hands better. I tried to hang onto this girl with her feet now airborne, but unfortunately, WHOOSH, there she flew out of my failing grasp, face down, skidding across the wooden basketball court.
A hush fell over the crowd. Just when everyone expected to see this little cherub stand up with bloody knees and no teeth, up rises this resilient child without a mark, as she runs back at me yelling, "Do it again!" So do it again we did, with a successful airborne spin this time, and a cheering crowd. I was just grateful I didn't have to go with my Plan B of running out of the arena with an angry mob giving chase.
Copyright © 2004 Doug Jones. All rights reserved.
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