The Cedarville Yellow Jacket mascot has changed throughout the years, but some traditions live on.
“It’s like the picture of Cedarville when you see the Yellow Jacket,” says cheerleading head coach Kristin Miller, who oversees the mascot, “and so that ties sports in with the great academic institution that it is.”
One change this year is that a new student is playing the Jacket. Miller announced in September that the previous year’s
Yellow Jacket had graduated and that a new one was needed. She says she received around 50 emails from both male students and female students who were interested in the job.
Schedule and previous experience were factors Miller considered in selecting the new mascot. Personality was important, too.
“You’re looking for someone who’s not going to be afraid, you know, even though they’re behind a mask,” she says.
Who is that someone now filling the role?
“That person has been selected,” Miller says.
But that’s all the information students will get because part of Yellow Jacket tradition includes keeping the identity of the student playing the mascot a secret. This was a tradition back when Miller, a 2000 Cedarville graduate, cheered for the Yellow Jackets.
The student behind the mask is usually revealed at the basketball team’s senior night, Miller says. She says everybody tries to find out the identity of the Yellow Jacket at some point.“That was, you know, kept silent until his head came off,” she says of the Yellow Jacket’s identity, “and the whole crowd was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’”
“It’s not like we go in secret hiding to get them dressed,” she says. “I mean, they’ll walk in normally, you know, so it’s not like that’s the key of being the Yellow Jacket is keeping it secret.”
When Michael Batts, a 2011 Cedarville graduate, was the Yellow Jacket his junior and senior years, he says his close friends knew.
“I’d have to bail out of, you know, hanging out with them and stuff on game nights, and I’d be carrying half the uniform from my dorm room,” Batts says.
Other people connected the dots that he was the Yellow Jacket from times when he missed class to go to an event as the mascot, he says.
Batts’ identity was revealed his senior year.
“I got to take off the mascot head, and everyone cheered,” Batts says, “and that was really cool to be recognized that way.”
While the identity of the Yellow Jacket is a secret, the challenges being in the costume presents are not. Current cheerleader Adam Silorey is not the new Yellow Jacket but was in the costume for three and a half hours recently for an event at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
He says both the tail and the head present difficulties along with the heat. Jessica Hand, the Cedarville cheerleader he was with, checked up on him throughout the event.
“Jess would always peek in a little hole,” Silorey says, “and be like, ‘You okay, Adam? Are you okay in there?’”
Batts says the costume is hard to see out of because the openings for seeing are on the side. He dealt with this by swinging his head around a lot.
“You could have a little bit of a straight shot in front of you to see out of each side as you walked,” Batts says, “and it gave the bee a little bit of swag, you know what I’m saying?”
The mascot uniform itself has changed throughout the years. Miller says when Cedarville College became Cedarville University, the whole uniform changed.
“The other one is archived,” she says, “the whole mascot uniform.”
“As the school changes, you know, the mascot has kind of adapted as well,” Miller says.
For example, when Silorey was at the statehouse this semester, he and Hand danced, he says.
But Batts didn’t do much dancing when he was the mascot.
“I did a little bit of dancing in the Yellow Jacket costume,” he says. “Not too much because then we weren’t allowed to dance.”
The mascot memory that sticks out to Batts is not dancing or even cheering for the Yellow Jackets. At a close basketball game, Batts was on the sidelines cheering when he felt something on his leg.
“It was this little girl who had ran up from her parents and had grabbed my leg and was wanting to give me a hug,” he says.
At that moment, for Batts, being the mascot was no longer about backing the Jackets.
“It’s more about, you know, the next generation of Yellow Jackets,” he says, “and one day she might be the mascot, and one day she might be in the bleachers cheering on the Yellow Jackets.”
Zack Anderson is a senior journalism and technical & professional communication major and managing editor for Cedars. This means he spends way too much time in the J-Lab and Tyler 102, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.