Story by Larissa Wurm
Photo courtesy of Erin Bell
But what is the job of beloved mascot?
Erin Bell, Porterhouse’s “mom,” said they are trying to figure it out.
“It’s all completely voluntary,” Bell said. “We go to as many games as we can, especially basketball and football. People notice when we’re gone. They will come up to us and say ‘Where were you guys? Why weren’t you at the game?’”
Porterhouse has been Drake University’s official live mascot for four full years, now beginning his fifth. He was asked to be the official mascot after he won the 2009 Beautiful Bulldog Contest, on his fourth try.
“We just kind of figured out what we were supposed to do,” Bell said. “We interact with the fans, and he runs the team out at games. They asked if they thought he would run after a basketball and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’”
“We just love sharing him with people,” Bell said.
The newly made Twitter account has brought that to a whole new level, allowing them to interact with students like never before.
“I haven’t met one student who doesn’t like stopping to say ‘hi’ to Porterhouse or his ‘parents,’” said Nate Erickson, a senior marketing major with a human resources concentration. “Whether you see him on campus or look at the pictures on Twitter, he can really brighten your day. His owners really go out of their way to make him accessible to students.”
And let’s not forget about Spike.
While a bulldog has been the official mascot since the 1930s, it wasn’t originally named Spike. After a contest held on campus, in which only one name was submitted and subsequently picked, the mascot was then named Butch. In the 1950s, the name was changed to Spike in another contest during homecoming week.
The job of being the school mascot is given to a team of several students, unknown to the rest of the student body, who go to university events to pump up and interact with the crowd. They also have the job of representing the university wherever they go. The team has even ranked fifth in a national cheerleading and dance competition in 2009.
“Whether it’s a sporting event, community program, or other function, Spike embodies everything great about Drake,” Erickson said.
What does Porterhouse think of Spike?
“He’s always a little competitive,” Bell laughs.
But having a live mascot is one of the things that is really unique to Drake.
“Most schools don’t have a live panther or something,” Bell said. “This is something unique that Drake has. Sometimes, the other teams will even come looking for him.”