Ever wonder who is behind your team’s mascot suit? Well, I hate to break this to you but if you went to Brown it might not have been a drunken sports fan or a flexible male dancer…rather it could be your future rabbi. Recently, I caught up with fellow Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical Student Ari Lucas, who by the way comes from a great line of Lucas Rabbis, and instead of talking God we talked sport mascoting(?). Ari was nice enough to share his story. Take it from me he is a great guy and gonna be an even better rabbi but undoubtedly his best quality is being a Bear.
1) Ready to be famous?
2) How did you get your position as the Brown Bear?
I was at a basketball game my freshman year and was underwhelmed with the performance of Bruno the Bear. I grew up a Phillies fan and the Philly Phanatic had a huge influence on me (see the attached picture from a bump-in I had with the Phanatic while on Spring Break in Washington DC - he was recording some clips for the Washington Nationals’ first visit to Citizens’ Bank Park.)
I inquired with the athletic department, came to my interview with three pages of brainstorm ideas and was hired on the spot.
3) Did you ever fight with other mascots?
Only once. The bear before me was arrested at a Yale football game for instigating a fight, so I was instructed to keep a low profile, but one time I couldn’t hold back. I had to represent Brown pride. It was a home basketball game against Penn - the winner would win the Ivy League and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Brown had given out rally towels to the fans and the Penn Quaker got his hands on one. (I don’t know that it was a “he,” but the Quaker costume is a man, so I’ll refer to him as a “he”) He started tearing the towel, so I went up to him and grabbed it out of his hands. The crowd cheered. Then he pushed me, so I pushed him back. Then he hit me, so I hit him back. His head was made of plastic and it hurt my hand. The refs quickly broke up the fight and warned us that they would throw us out if we kept it up.
4) What was your most memorable game and moment?
Skating on the ice at a Men’s Hockey game. My older sister, Dina, came to cheer me on. It’s not easy to skate in the suit. I stood in the goal between periods while some local kids tried to score score goals on me. It was a lot of fun.
5) Was it hot under that Bear suit?
You have no idea. They switched suits my senior year. I preferred the old model because you looked out of the eyes instead of the mouth, but the one advantage of the new model was that it had a fan that would blow air out the top of the head. I used to bring a camelback with me in the suit so I wouldn’t dehydrate. There were a couple freezing football and soccer games when I was happy to have a layer of fur, but for the most part it was sweaty.
6) What did you do on games that conflicting with Jewish holidays?
I was one of 3 bears, so we used to coordinate so that I wouldn’t work on holidays. But sometimes, I would do a basketball or football game on Shabbat. I could walk to the stadium and I wouldn’t log the hours I worked on Shabbat, so that I wouldn’t be paid for those games.
7) What are you doing these days?
Learning for the year in Jerusalem as part of my rabbinical studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary.
8) If you could suit up as any mascot which would it be? Who would your team play against?
I love the Bruno suit and wouldn’t betray him. I will say that I’ve always admired the St. Joseph’s Hawk. He flaps his wings from beginning to end of every basketball game (that’s hard work) and I’m told he gets a full tuition scholarship.
I know this is mixing and matching sports, but I would like to play the Milwaukee Brewers. I always thought their mascott was lame.
Thank you to Ari Lucas. May his Torah be as good as his school pride.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
For More Jewish Sports visit www.TheGreatRabbino.com.
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