Inside the suit: Being the Panther


Instagram: @bdistasi13

A photo from my night! Notice that I wasn’t even looking at the camera.

On Thursday, August 29, I wore the Panther suit for the first half of Elder’s first football game against Middletown. I’d like to share what wearing the suit was like and what it meant to me.

Before the game, I quickly got ready in a UC parking lot.

First comes the padding to buff out my chest, then I put on the body and have someone else help zip up the back of the suit. Then the jersey is put on, and next are the feet and the hands. The reason for me not wearing any shoes during the second half of that game was for two reasons. One is that the costume has boots inside the feet to act as shoes, and the other was that I left my regular shoes in the car before I came down to the field. The head of the suit was the last part to put on. The costume’s head allows vision through the mouth, and has a plastic construction helmet inside to keep the Panther head attached to your own head.

As I walked to the stadium with the cheerleaders for the game, the heat hit me like a locomotive at full speed. With it being 85 degrees outside and me wearing probably 30 pounds of thick “fur”, I was walking around in my own sweat for about 90 minutes. Although these conditions may seem tough, being in the suit brought a whole new personality to me.

While wearing the costume, I was not Steven Maurer, I was the Elder Panther mascot, and because of that, I was able to create my own antics and have more fun in the costume than I could as myself. I ran around, did push-ups, gave high-fives, took pictures, and had tons of fun doing it. When there were kids wanting to talk to me, I had to try my best to act out my words instead of speaking, like most mascots do. There was a father who wanted me to take a picture with his kids, and I couldn’t believe how wide their eyes got when I offered them a high-five. I couldn’t believe the effect that I had on some of them, how they actually thought that I was an actual panther instead of just some guy in a costume.

Although the conditions may have been rough, and I sweated off almost half my body weight inside of that suit, I had a great amount of fun with it and I’d love to do it again. I would also encourage anyone else who has an interest in being the Panther to give it a try and see if it works out for you. I promise that you’ll have fun with it even if you just try it out for one game.

So now, when you see the Panther at the games and the pep rallies, you’ll know what it’s like to experience a game from inside the suit.