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Athletics department searches for new student to fill prospector’s boots

Prospector Pete is going Gangnam style.

The athletics department held auditions Tuesday in the Walter Pyramid for a new student to become the Cal State Long Beach mascot, who can be found at many athletic and campus events.

Nine students attended the tryouts, including seven men and two women. During the audition process, the students were split into groups of three and were asked to free dance, perform choreography to South Korean artist PSY’s 2012 dance craze “Gangnam Style” and demonstrate how they would toss a t-shirt into a crowd during games.

“Gangnam Style is currently one of the songs that the pep band plays during games, and the spirit teams perform a coordinated routine with it,” Jennifer Chow, athletics department marketing assistant, said via email.

“It was suggested by [the spirit teams coach] that the contestants perform to that song during the audition to get a feel for their choreography performance skills.”

The student chosen to become Prospector Pete will also be awarded one semester of free tuition. The free tuition was part of a one-time promotional audition, according to Rey Lozano, the Spirit Teams coach and coordinator.

“Some of the most important qualities that the selection committee is looking for in regards to contestants are high energy, the ability to dance and entertain with movement and pantomiming and being comfortable with fan interaction,” Chow said.

Eligibility to go to national competitions and travel to postseason events with athletic teams are among the other mascot perks, according to Chow.

Up until now, Prospector Pete has been more like a Disney mascot – that is, a little less active, according to Lozano.

“Prospector Pete’s [responsibility is to] attend athletic games and promotional events in order to bring attention to the athletic teams at LB State,” Lozano said.

The athletics department aims to head in a different direction and unveil a new mascot, similar to the Bud Light Daredevil, who is sports-oriented, athletic and active, Lozano said.

Near the end of the auditions, each candidate was also allowed to perform a solo in which any hip-hop, acrobatic or breakdancing skills were welcomed.

The two spirit team members who led the tryouts, Karli Schutt and Jayme Johnson, encouraged the mascot hopefuls to channel energy, strength and excitement into their performance.
Junior exercise science major Brantzen Wong said he auditioned to be Prospector Pete because he enjoys being on campus and attending all of the events. He also said that the free tuition would be the icing on the cake.

“I’m a daredevil and a thrill seeker,” Wong said. “I like to push myself to my limits.”

Special education graduate student Kyle Matze said he hoped that his six years of mascot experience gave him an edge in the competition.

“I do it because I love mascotting,” Matze said. “I’ve been doing it so long, it’s a passion that I have.”

Lozano was sidelined on the east coast due to Hurricane Sandy and was unable to attend the try-outs. The athletics department took footage of each performance for the head spirit coach to review once back in Long Beach. Lozano and the athletics department will make the final decision by Monday, with ASI expected to make the official reveal within the next week.
 

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