The highs and lows for UB’s mascot Victor E. Bull
Victor E. Bull locked eyes with the Army Mule mascot during a home football game this past fall against Army.
The two mascots began circling each other. Fans took notice of the brewing altercation, so Victor prepared himself for what he thought would be a dance off, when suddenly, the Mule mascot began shoving him.
“He was getting a little more aggressive than I wanted to, but this is my home school, it’s our team, so I wasn’t going to wimp out,’” Victor said. “He started charging at me so I put my leg up and he knocked me off balance. I fell back and my head almost came off.”
Most people don’t think of the man behind the mask and on game day, but he has the most unpredictable job of anyone on the field.
In the course of just one shift, it’s not out of the ordinary for Victor to lead an entire stadium in cheer, have his tail pulled by a toddler and get tackled by a drunk college student.
The current Victor, a junior computer science major who is contractually obligated to remain anonymous, has seen plenty of all three instances since becoming the full time mascot as a sophomore.
He is currently the only person who portrays Victor. He must plan his schedule in advance to balance the rigors of a tough major with the obligations of being the face of UB Athletics on game days.
Balancing school and work may be the easiest part of being the mascot. In hot gyms and cold football stadiums, he must always remain alert and in character.
He does it all while wearing a big, hot suit.
“Even when you’re kind of standing in the background, just standing around, you can never just look idle,” Victor said. “It drains you physically.”
He also deals the unique challenge of having to communicate with large groups of people without being able to use his voice or face. To do this, he has created his own character for Victor, just as past mascots have done before him.
Since the game itself and interactions are so unpredictable, he must get into character beforehand so he can react without thinking.
“You have to know how that character would react to a certain situation,” Victor said. “The character I act as likes to mess with people, quick response, quick actions, fast movements… I’ve incorporated dancing as a big part of what Victor does, because I’m not athletic enough to do any flips just yet or jump out of risers or whatever.”
The current student in the suit has no formal background in dance or cheerleading. He was a football player and track athlete in high school and says he’s always just had a knack for dancing.
He worked on the sports marketing game day staff as a freshman, where he met the former mascot. When he found out they were looking for a new Victor, he decided to try out since he had been his school’s mascot in high school.
Since taking the position, he has aspired to make Victor more synonymous with UB Athletics than ever before.
“I want to do more with it if it were possible, I want Victor be like more of an icon or when at least when people think of UB Athletics that’s part of the overall thought,” Victor said. “It wouldn’t be the same without Victor at every game I think, he’s a catalyst in getting people up and moving.”
Victor has struggled to balance school and work. He recalls one particular instance last season when in between a men’s and women’s basketball double-header, he was sitting in a closet in his mascot suit doing physics homework.
As difficult as his job may sometimes be, Victor says he considers it more fun than a job.
“I just love interacting with you,” Victor said. “I can’t put it in words. It’s been a pleasure and honor being your Victor. I hope to continue putting smiles on everyone’s faces.”
Michael Akelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org