Whenever any of us thinks of Arizona State, one of the first images that jumps into our heads is that of Sparky. He’s our lovable mascot. The pre-game football intros featuring him are some of the best in all of sports. But Sparky is more than just a college mascot. He’s a symbol of Tempe. He brings a smile to all the faces attending the big game or the child he’s visiting at the hospital.
I was fortunate enough to recently interview the student who puts on the costume. For those of you who don’t know, being a college mascot is like being a member of an elite fraternity of super heroes, kind of like The Avengers. We all recognize the mask but rarely know who’s wearing it. With that being said, we have to keep Sparky’s identity a secret. I can tell you that this person is a student at ASU, but that’s about it.
The same individual has been Sparky for the last four years, since their freshman year at Arizona State. In high school, this Sparky-to-be was known for having lots of school spirit. While at ASU, there was a push-up contest at a basketball game against Sparky and this student won. Afterward, he spoke to the coach and was invited to try out for Sparky. After exchanging contact info, he received the call for a try out.
What do you have to do to be Sparky? As you know, push-ups are pretty important, so Sparky had to do as many as he could in a minute. Sparky did 65. (My personal record for push-ups in a minute is 56). Sparky also had to show how to spell out ASU using his body. Finally, he got to put on the costume and attend a volleyball game, where he was evaluated on how good of a job he did at actually being Sparky. Lucky for us, our Sparky passed the test.
There are a lot of great reasons why Sparky loves his job. Of course, the football games top the list. The adrenaline rush he gets when ‘Thunderstruck’ starts to play while running out of the tunnel with the team is indescribable. “There’s no better entrance in the Pac-12,” he said. But that’s not the best part of the job. Visiting sick kids at hospitals is what makes him the happiest. For Sparky, there’s no greater feeling than walking in the room, seeing the child smile and shaking their hand. “It makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile with my life.”
For more information about upcoming sporting events at ASU where you can see Sparky in full glory, visit www.thesundevils.com or call (480) 727-0000.