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Features Humans of Drake

New Griffterns paw-sitively excited to join the live mascot program

Lainey Arrol and Kate Hagemeier are this year’s Griffterns. Photo courtesy of Erin Bell

In 2015, the live mascot program was created with Erin Bell, who was named manager of the live mascot program. Drake Athletics approached Bell following her previous involvement with Drake University as the owner of Porterhouse, the winner of the 2009 Beautiful Bulldog Contest. 

Bell brought Porterhouse to various athletic events, and the Drake community soon began to adore him. Following Porterhouse’s passing in 2013, the live mascot program was created. 

“The University recognized what a hole was left and took action to start an official program,” Bell said. 

After an intense search for a bulldog to kick off the live mascot program, Griff I became the official bulldog mascot of Drake. 

“As soon as he stepped foot on this campus, there was no doubt in my mind he was the right one,” Bell said. “Griff I lived up to everything I asked for. He’s incredibly special.”

Following Griff I’s retirement in 2020, Griff II was named the new live mascot. 

On March 5, faculty and students commemorated the passing of Griff I, the first live mascot at Drake. Students placed flowers around statues and shared social media posts in remembrance of Griff I and the impact he had on the Drake community.

“Griff I was stoic and dignified, and Griff II is goofy and innocent and playful,” Bell said. “He’s a very sensitive dog, he shows his emotions and he’s just pretty great.”

Frequently attending sporting events and activities across campus, Griff II stole the hearts of the Drake community in no time. In consideration of his popularity, Bell worked to create the live mascot intern program, commonly referred to by students as the “Grifftern,” an opportunity for students to work alongside Bell to assist Griff II in his endeavors. 

Nate Eisenmann was one of the first Griffterns at Drake. Eisenmann’s duties include creating social media content, videos for Instagram and TikTok and photo content for other platforms.

 “I was a set of eyes and hands for Griff II, helping him get from point A to B — across campus, off campus, the Knapp Center — and making sure he’s safe,” Eisenmann said. 

On Feb. 28, the new interns were named in preparation for Eisenmann’s graduation in May. The first new Grifftern will be Lainey Arrol, a first-year student studying advertising and public relations with a psychology minor. 

“I actually didn’t know that they were offering me the position, so I just smiled and eventually said thank you, until Erin elaborated on what future actions were to come,” Arrol said.

Arrol elaborated on her role as a Grifftern and the separation from Bell’s role as Griff’s owner.

“Erin is still in charge of running all the socials, so sometimes she’ll be live posting from an event, like Admitted Students Day,” Arrol said. “She needs help with crowd control, making sure Griff is okay and wiping drool from his face.”

Griff II’s reputation precedes him as a representative of Drake’s community. 

“[Griff II] is normally pretty calm, but there are times when he gets the zoomies,” Arrol said. “He’s super sweet. I’ve never seen him be aggressive.” 

The second new Grifftern will be Kate Hagemeier, a sophomore student studying zoo and conservation science and psychology, with a minor in data analytics.

Hagemeier applied to the position after learning about it on social media, where she expressed her excitement about the opportunity. Her remarks on the program encompassed her love for dogs and the value of the live mascot program, as well as her respect for Bell.

“You see other schools with live mascots and it’s only in athletic representation, but Drake is unique because it’s not just athletics. It’s a whole community,” Hagemeier said. “Erin Bell is such an incredible person and does so much behind the scenes. She makes sure Griff has a good public face, she’s just one of the sweetest people I know.” 

Hagemeier highlights the ways she has firsthand seen Griff bring together the community, including visits to elementary and middle schools.

“To people on campus, come say hi to Griff, stop and pet him, come see him give him lots of love. He’s your dog too. He’s here for you guys,” Hagemeier said.

The live mascot program and Griff’s role in uniting the community is one to leave legacies. Positions such as Griffterns allow for community engagement to persist, and the comradery displayed by Bell, the Griffterns and Griff himself illustrates the uniqueness of Drake.

 

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