Unicorns, bumblebees and alligators -- Brittany Battles has seen them all. After three years of performing as a high school mascot, Battles, a senior public relations major, turned her talents into a job coaching nearly 100 other mascots.
At her Arlington, Texas, high school, she was known as Big Al, mascot for the Oakridge Owls, a role she won her freshman year. Battles, who says she had "the best job in the school," enjoyed the chance that her costume gave her to disappear and interact with the crowd in a different way.
At times, however, being undercover had its drawbacks, she says.
"I planned to end one halftime skit by riding off the football field on a go-cart," Battles says. "When I started the engine, my owl wings got caught in the back wheel. My costume was pulling so tight I almost choked, but the crowd had no idea. The announcer was laughing and trying to get me off the field, but I couldn't move. Looking back, it's a pretty funny story."
Following her junior year in high school, directors of the American Cheerleaders Association (ACA), based in Richardson, Texas, approached Battles with a job offer. ACA was a new company looking for a mascot director, and they had seen Battles in action at national cheerleading competitions.
She says she loved working for the organization, which holds 17 camps each summer. "At the camps, we teach life lessons that are based on Christian principles," she says. "The most important quality I look for in a job is the ability to work for something I believe in."
Battles says she helped write the ACA's mascot training manual while coaching other mascots at cheerleading camps throughout Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma the past five summers.
Being a mascot takes someone with good character and a sense of humor to be able to "work the crowd," she says. She jokes about the great workout that comes with being a mascot, given that it's usually 20 degrees warmer inside the suit. Battles says she hopes she taught her students to think on their feet, enjoy the spotlight and, most of all, to have fun. -- Katie Treadwell