Griff ll will make his first appearance as the official Drake University mascot at the famous Drake Relays this year since the relays were cancelled last year due to COVID.
“I am definitely eager to find out how he does in a few weeks, but I am not a bit worried about it,” said Griff II hander Erin Bell. “He has surpassed all expectations so far, and I don’t have any doubt he will handle Relays and the hectic, demanding schedule with grace and professionalism.”
Bell said that Griff l will not be attending the Relays and will be “happily sleeping in his many favorite spots around our house during Relays while George (Griff II) and I work our tails off.”
“When I decided to retire Griff I, I wanted it to be a very clean transition. Griff II is the mascot now, so he handles all official duties for the university,” Bell said.
Being the handler for Drake’s live mascot is a “marathon” during the Drake Relays.
“The hardest part about being the handler of the live mascot at Relays is balancing all the demands with his well being,” Bell said.
During the Relays, Bell must be available with Griff ll non-stop for eight or more days straight to interact with a variety of people at different events.
“I have to balance the demands for his presence with his well being, which can be tricky,” Bell said. “But at the end of the day, his wellbeing and happiness is and must always be my first priority.”
Despite the physical and mental demands of the job, Bell said that being Griff ll’s handler is an “honor.”
“I love being able to have Griff l, and now Griff II, involved in such a special and memorable time for the students on campus,” Bell said. “When you all think back to Relays Week and all the good times you had, I want the live mascot to be part of those memories. I also love being able to share the live mascot with returning alumni, many of whom didn’t have a live mascot during their time at Drake.”
There will be no alumni events this year as part of the COVID safety precautions. There will be additional COVID precautions in place for the safety of Griff ll–people must use hand sanitizer before petting him, wear a mask except for an optional brief removal for a photo, and maintain social distancing as much as possible when around him.
“I agree that when meeting Griff II, and in any case scenario in a social setting during the pandemic, that COVID-19 precautions are necessary for the safety of yourself, Griff II, and others,” said first-year Gabby Sihakom.
The COVID restrictions certainly won’t keep Drake students, like freshman Andrew Copeland, from wanting to meet with Griff ll.
“If I am able to see Griff ll, of course I am going to run up to him, get a picture, and pet that adorable little bulldog,” Copeland said.