STORY BY HALEY HODGES
Even at a small school with an undergraduate enrollment under 3,500 students, you can expect to see new faces at every event. Still, there is one staple of the Drake community that has remained unchanged and can be expected to make an appearance at almost every big event.
Distinctively garbed in Drake paraphernalia over his furry exterior, Spike the Bulldog attends sporting events, pep rallies and plenty of other festivities at Drake, endlessly supporting his school and acting as the face of the Drake Bulldogs.
“I think (he’s) really important and (is) a representation of what the school is,” first-year and football manager Hannah Alerecht said. “Mascots are just always what you know the school for.”
Although Spike must be brought to life with outside help, he is his own character and is treated as such by the community. In line with that, Drake Athletics prefers to keep the identity of the face behind the mask a secret. By doing this, the mascot cannot be viewed as anyone but Spike.
Still, one of the individuals who portrays him agreed to an interview to provide insight about Spike’s role at Drake while still remaining anonymous.
“Spike is Spike. He’s not a person in a suit. He’s our mascot. He’s our bulldog,” the individual explained. “People treat him as a person, as a Bulldog, as what he needs to be in that moment and I think that’s the beauty of having a mascot is that he’s the mascot. He is Spike: that’s his identity. It’s not the person behind the mask, it’s Spike and that’s the really unique thing.”
As the mascot, Spike is responsible for filling a number of functions and providing fans with excitement and enthusiasm for Drake.
“Spike’s main role is to bring a sense of pride and spirit to the hearts of those that love Drake or are from the community,” the individual said. “He’s the go-getter, the comedian, the cheerleader; he’s what you need him to be at that moment in time.”
So far, Spike has appeared at the Welcome Weekend activities for first-years, sporting events and, recently, all of the homecoming week activities around campus.
His most prominent appearances are at football games where he is always present to support the team and pump up the crowd.
“He definitely increases the attitude of the audience. He gets them more riled up,” said Anthony Mooney, an offensive guard for the football team. “I don’t know if he does it so much for the team on the sideline but definitely (for) the crowd. … The crowd helps the rest of team. When the crowd is pumped up, we’re pumped up.”
Although fans come to the games to watch and support the team, the atmosphere would be far different without support led on by the cheer team, the pep band and Spike.
“I know the team has said the louder the crowd is the more they feel like they’re representing something and it helps them want to win more,” Alerecht said.
Spike may not be responsible for adding points to the scoreboard but instead helps to keep the fans invested and serves as the embodiment of school spirit.
Wherever Spike goes, fans and smiles follow because he is so much more than just another figure in the Drake community. He is recognizable beyond Des Moines and Iowa, known worldwide by Bulldog fans everywhere.
“The Drake fanbase spreads nations and wherever you go you see that bulldog, you see Spike, and you know who it is and that loyalty behind Spike is definitely strong,” the individual behind the mascot said. “Spike definitely feels the love, that’s for sure. He is always greeted with smiles and hugs and high fives and he will go up to fans and alumni and anyone as well doing the same thing. I definitely think whether you’re alumni or from the community or you’ve even just heard of Drake there are warm welcomes and excitement when people see him.”