As a student, Cara Dekelbaum ’16, jazz performance, couldn’t talk much about her part-time job; as much as they love what they do, mascots traditionally don’t reveal their identities while they’re still on campus.

Having graduated, and having traveled to Charlotte as True Grit, though, she’s now ready to give us the inside scoop on what it’s like to be the world’s favorite (dancing, drum-playing, scene-stealing) Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Cara Dekelbaum as True GritQ: What is your favorite memory from the trip to Charlotte?

A: Winning the mascot dance-off and drumming with the pep band were incredible experiences that I ended up getting a lot of publicity for. It was thrilling to hear the cheers!

Q: We saw a clip of you jamming out to Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” with the Pep Band. Is it difficult to play the drums with gigantic puppy arms?

A: The feet are the most challenging. I wear men’s size 13 basketball shoes that are stuffed with a towel so I had to make sure I had control of the high hat and the bass drum. I wore batting gloves to drum so I had decent control. Except I missed the cutoff from our director!

Q: What’s the toughest thing about being True Grit? And what’s the absolute best?

A: The toughest thing is the helplessness of being in the costume. You are in a position where you can’t talk, have limited visibility, and are HOT. The best part is bringing joy to fans!

Q: What might surprise us most about the life of a mascot?

A: Professional mascots are sort of an underground alliance. I go to events with other mascots and we all sit around with our heads off and gossip about our experiences. It’s great! I think we all agree that we smile when we take pictures. And we can’t stand when people ask us if we are hot. They assume we have magical air conditioning in our costumes.

Q: Where did you get those sweet dance moves?

A: I get my sweet moves from my Wii games! The “Just Dance” series and “Michael Jackson: The Experience” taught me some great moves. In fact, my winning moves from the dance-off are from “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.”

Q: How on earth do you handle the heat in there?

A: I wear Under Armour clothes, sweat-wicking socks, and a skull cap to keep my hair off my neck. I hydrate. The heat is tough but I love mascoting more than I hate the heat. You have to love it. And I really do.

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