ELGIN — Elgin mascot Ben Roberts hopes to turn his time in the Owl costume into a college education at a major university, and his performance at this year’s Citrus Bowl is helping him get there.
Roberts has received offers from three Division I schools, but he’d rather not disclose which ones yet. He’s still mulling them over and is hopeful to make a decision sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, Roberts has reflected on the time spent in Orlando in late December and early January, when he was part of a 30-mascot pre-game routine that entertained the capacity crowd at Camping World Stadium.
“It was a really great time,” said Roberts, who was performing at the Citrus Bowl for the second year in a row. “There were 30 mascots and a few hundred cheerleaders and dancers. It was a 15-minute routine that we had worked on for three days. It was so hot in those costumes.”
Roberts and the other mascots couldn’t help but receive widespread attention after their performance.
“It’s hard to walk from one end of the stadium to the other without drawing a lot of attention from people. I had a lot of photo ops,” he said.
Part of the memorable experiences includes his lesson on endurance, which is needed by any mascot who wears a steamy costume for several hours.
“You just learn to stick with it because your body temperature is super high,” he said. “You learn to prepare yourself to be tough. It (being a mascot) teaches you to stick with something.”
Roberts, a senior, has been Elgin’s mascot for four years.
Roberts’ mother, Lisa Roberts, said the Citrus Bowl experience was an exciting time for her and her husband.
“It’s always fun to see him on the field,” the proud mother said. “They had him at the front. He did a great job, and we all had a great time. I know I’m his mom, but he really has the moves out there. Everybody was proud of him as far as I heard. We were proud of him, for sure.”
Roberts and his parents were forced to make the 20-hour drive to Orlando after their Southwest Airlines flight was canceled due to bad weather. While in Orlando, the family was able to attend the OU-Florida State game at the same stadium.
The mascots spent five hours practicing their routine the first night and experienced a full day of rehearsals 24 hours before the game.
“They were in their suits and out of their suits all day,” Lisa Roberts said. “You couldn’t wear those costumes the entire time.”
The Citrus Bowl featured the LSU Tigers against the Purdue Boilermakers. LSU dominated Purdue and ran away with a 63-7 victory.