Feb 14, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — They are the ultimate school cheerleaders, but players, coaches and fans don’t know their names, what they look like or the sound of their voices. The men inside the Duke Blue Devil and UNC Rameses mascot costumes say they plan to keep it that way.
The mascot metamorphosis is so shrouded in secrecy that the men – whom WRAL News cannot name – are not even allowed to tell those closest to them about their undercover job.
“It's really funny, though, seeing your friends while you're in the suit, and they have no idea,” said Duke’s Blue Devil. “You have to make up so many excuses (why you can’t go to the game). ‘I have an interview this weekend. Oh, I can't go to the game. I have to go to the library.’”
As the ultimate symbols of school spirit, the men’s world is one of mayhem, mystery and sweat. Rameses and the Blue Devil start drinking water a day before tip-off and say they typically lose 5 to 6 pounds each hour they're undercover.
“It is insanely hot in there,” said Duke’s Blue Devil. “You sweat more than you think you'll sweat in your entire life.”
Complaining about the heat during the game is not an option since silence in the suit is a must. That’s not the only rule.
“Don’t run into Coach K while he's walking around the court,” Duke’s Blue Devil said.
“Rameses is a little bit mischievous and fun, but he should never endanger things or do anything that could cause harm,” UNC’s Rameses said.
Despite the rules, there are perks to the job, such as not having to wait in line to watch games. There are also pitfalls, such as not being able to scratch their backs and lack of peripheral vision.
“You can knock people’s face or something, and you feel really embarrassed because they're elderly and they want their picture, but then you just slap them in the face by accident,” UNC’s Rameses said.
Both mascots said they have learned to think on their feet, especially around rowdy fans.
“Maybe a girl does something slightly inappropriate, you kind of work around it, interact (and) get out of it the best you can,” Duke’s Blue Devil said.
Each school typically has three to four students who act as the mascot. They trade off between halves of the game. While the two men WRAL News interviewed are rivals on the court, they say they are friends off the court.