Fans go wild when he steps onto the football field. Nearly 80,000 people watch him as he rallies the crowd and represents the University of Wisconsin with pride. The adoration for Bucky, or Buckingham U. Badger, is felt in the stadium throughout the entire game.
While all UW students recognize their beloved mascot, many do not know the story behind the students inside the 35-pound head and red-and-white striped suit.
Seven UW students take on the role of Bucky Badger each year. They perform in front of thousands of spectators at hundreds of events throughout the year. The amount of passion each Bucky feels toward UW is huge — each Bucky takes on dozens of events every year, serving their university for no pay.
The Badger Herald sat down with one of the Badgers behind the mask to get an inside glimpse into the Bucky world. Because of mascot program regulations, this Bucky’s name has been omitted from the story.
For this particular Bucky, cheering on UW from behind the mask has been a lifelong aspiration.
“I even had a Bucky bib when I was a baby. I pretty much knew I wanted to go to Madison ever since second grade,” he said. “During my freshman year at Madison, I became serious about auditioning for Bucky. It was just something I knew I could do well.”
The Bucky became so determined to obtain the role that he did some “pretty outrageous” things to get the judges’ attention.
Part of the audition process includes coming up with a two-minute skit with no speaking allowed.
“I basically cross-dressed and acted out the day of a girl. I put on makeup, styled my hair and shaved my legs in front of the judges,” he said. “I went on to perform the Beyoncé “Single Ladies” dance, and played a Taylor Swift song while pretending to fall in love with one of the judges.”
The tryouts for Bucky are a thorough test to make sure the future mascots are a perfect match. The first part of the auditions requires Bucky-hopefuls to show off their skills via pushups, a cheerleading stunt, dancing to music and acting to an impromptu story, he said. The top eight people make it to finals, which involve skating through obstacles, a two-minute skit and a 20-minute interview.
After landing the spot, this Bucky’s expectations were set high for his new role. Little did he know that his preconceived ideas were not even close to an accurate depiction of life as Bucky.
“My experiences have absolutely exceeded my expectations, I get to do so much more on campus than I ever thought I would,” he said. “Being Bucky has 100 percent changed my outlook on college. Once I got chosen for Bucky, my whole life changed. It’s a cool feeling knowing you are the face of the university and people don’t know who you are.”
After reflecting on all of his experiences as Bucky, this mascot said choosing the highlight of his Bucky tenure would be a tough choice to make.
He said his favorite part of being Bucky has been the comradery developed between the seven Buckys, who he said are like family to him. He also pointed to the different types of experiences he has been exposed to and said many of the opportunities he has had would not have been possible if it were not for his mascot role.
Not only do the seven Buckys have a good relationship, he said, but most of the mascots around the country have a solid friendship as well.
“Everybody loves everybody. When we see each other it’s like a fraternity that is spread across the whole country,” he said. “Bucky has a really good relationship with Sparty, they are pretty much best friends.”
The informational meeting for tryouts is April 2 at 7 p.m. at the Field House. Additional information about tryouts and background on Buckingham U. Badger can be found at uwbadgers.com/spiritsquad/bucky-badger.html.