Brody the Bruin.
Big, furry, full of energy, he’s the bear who is unafraid to crowd surf at soccer games or get tackled by basketball players on Fandemonium night. The crowd loves him; he loves the crowd.
And last year, he was me.
When the athletic department held tryouts last year for the school mascot, I almost overlooked the email. I had always heard that being a mascot was the dorkiest thing you could do.
But now, looking back on last year, I can honestly say that whatever source I heard that from was wrong. Being a part of the Brody mascot staff last year was a thrilling experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
My mission as Brody was simple: to help the Bruins players during the game from the sideline. So, after putting on a big bear suit and big bear feet that were about 10 sizes too big, I would half waddle and half march out to the athletic track at each game I was assigned with the goal of trying to get the crowd’s energy up.
When I was Brody, I never knew what to expect once I stepped out on the track. Yes, I was in what felt like millions of pictures in the same, typical poses and smiled in the Brody head for every single one. And yes, I interacted with the seemingly hundreds of little kids storming up to me and latching onto my leg or trying to look in the bear mouth.
But some things you can’t plan for. Like having two guys run up to you, pick you up, put you on their shoulders . . . and then drop you when they start trying to run with you.
Or tripping in the huge bear feet and having a mini-heart attack when you stumble down a few rows of bleachers.
I also didn’t realize the number of kids who would seem really excited to see a huge bear, but were actually terrified once you tried to high-five or hug them. I don’t think I can count the number of kids I’ve made cry. And I felt completely awful about it each time.
There were special moments, though, that made the unexpected ones worth all of the trouble — seeing the faces of disabled or special needs youth and adults light up with happiness when I interacted with them when Camp Spearhead would visit a Bruins game, or knowing that a little girl had been waiting all day to see “Roar” (her nickname for Brody) at a soccer game.
The unique moments, both the good and the bad, made me step out of the suit, hot and sweaty, after the game was over with a grin on my face or with a funny story to tell a friend.
In life, we all experience times that come suddenly or unexpectedly. We may not always enjoy the experiences we endure, but we often take many things in life for granted.
Seeing what took place “behind the mask” of Brody helped me to appreciate the little things in life, both good moments and bad moments, just a little more than I might have otherwise. If we all slow down in our busy lives and take the time to relish our experiences, we can have more opportunities to smile at the little things that get thrown at us every day.