ELGIN – Ben Roberts will perform at the Jan. 2 Citrus Bowl, but not as a player. Instead, the senior from Elgin High School will be part of the one-of-a-kind pre-game show that features dancers, cheerleaders and mascots from all over the country.
Roberts, who is Elgin’s Owl mascot, will appear for the second year in a row at the Citrus Bowl. This year, the bowl game will feature the LSU Tigers against the Purdue Boilermakers.
Mascots who are invited to perform in the pre-game show are part of a select group of All-Americans chosen at Varsity Spirit summer camps across the country. Roberts was selected at the OU cheer camp this past summer.
All-Americans are based on superior skills as well as leadership skills at the various camps. Roberts swept the mascot awards for the second year in a row at the OU camp and was selected for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl performance.
“I am really looking forward to representing Elgin and our state for the second year in a row at the Citrus Bowl. It is a great way to end my four years as Elgin’s mascot,” Roberts said. “A lot of the people I’ll be working with are mascots at colleges, so it’ll help me decide if that’s something I want to pursue.”
Participants in the pre-game show will begin learning the routine as soon as they arrive in Orlando, Fla. Roberts is hoping he doesn’t have a repeat from last year when he sprained his ankle.
“It was rough but I did it anyway,” he said of performing in the show.
This year had a rough start when the flight for Roberts and his parents was cancelled by Southwest Airlines. As a result, the mascot and his parents began the long 20-hour drive to Orlando Tuesday night.
Still, that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for this year’s bowl performance.
“I’m very excited,” he said.
Bill Seely, president of Varsity Spirit, said the Citrus Bowl always brings together an incredible show for fans and TV watchers.
“We are thrilled that these excellent athletes will have the chance to perform and experience our Special Events in Orlando, Florida. We are honored to provide them a one-of-a-kind opportunity where they will meet and connect with cheerleaders, dancers and mascots from across the country and create memorable experiences at the Universal Orlando Resort parks,” he said.
Varsity Spirit is celebrating more than 30 years of honoring camp standouts.