Photo by Jane Suttmeier; illustration by Hannah Urano
“Battling” isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “Bishop,”unless you go to Ohio Wesleyan.
In 1925, the term “Battling Bishop” was the winning nickname selected through a contest held by the Phi Delta Epsilon journalism fraternity. Prior to that, “Ohio Wesleyan University’s teams were simply known as “The Red and Black,” or sometimes as “The Methodists,” states the athletic department’s website.
Starting this year, the selection of the student (or students) who will wear the Bishop mascot costume is being streamlined into a more consistent process.
Nancy Bihl-Rutkowski, assistant director of student involvement, said that because there has been no formal procedure in the past, their office, in coordination with the athletics department, marketing and communications, alumni relations, admissions and the cheerleaders, have been working on revamping the mascot selection process.
“It has not been easy to find someone to wear the costume when it is needed,” Bihl-Rutkowski said. “Also, since it is constantly someone different in the costume, there is no consistency to the Bishop’s mannerisms.”
The new process will involve an application, interview and audition. One or more students will be chosen to portray the Bishop at sporting events, around the campus and at other community events.
Senior Kelsey Brewer, who has been working with the Student Involvement office in the revamp of the mascot program, said the representatives will also be working with the various offices that utilize the mascot.
“(They) will be responsible for boosting moral, showcasing OWU spirit, and acting the part of the Bishop as needed at various events,” she said. “The selection committee will choose candidates based on school spirit, enthusiasm, and ability to function and maneuver in the mascot costume.”
Bihl-Rutkowski said she likes the idea of having representatives because it makes the whole process “more fun!”
Brewer said some of the challenges in selecting the mascot include an uncertain level of interest in students wanting to be the mascot, as well as finding someone who meets the criteria to be the Bishop.
“There might be difficulty in finding an applicant who meets the qualifications we are looking for, such as recommended height requirements (per the manufacturer) of between 5’7” and 6’2”,” she said. “We also need someone who shows an outstanding level of school spirit, enthusiasm, and maneuverability in the costume.”
Brewer said she volunteered to be a part of the program because she believes that the mascot should be an official school position “to maintain standards and school spirit.”
Brewer said, “portraying the Bishop is an honor and a privilege; I believe the Bishop program should reflect that level of importance and pride.”
School spirit, an enthusiastic and outgoing personality, an ability to interact well with others, and an ability to pick up choreographed routines are three important qualities Brewer thinks the mascot should have.
Those interested in applying to be the mascot should email the Student Involvement Office at email@example.com.
The first appearance of the Bishop is scheduled for Day on the Jay, April 25.