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the Last Roar
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The Albright LionI might be a lion, but before now I've never had the courage to speak. Honestly, I'm not really supposed to speak, but I had an experience over the summer that I feel I must share—I went to mascot camp!

After I unpacked from my move out of my den on Mt. Penn, but before Albright's students had returned to campus, I was bored and just "lion" around in my dorm room, Walton 100. I don't get out much over the summer, and my growing paunch was not impressing the lionesses. I had watched The Lion King at least five or six times in a row, too. I thought I wouldn't be able to stand it much longer until I heard a lyric from Katy Perry, "I am born again/out of the lion's den," and it hit me! I needed to do something to get ready for the incoming class of 2016 and the returning upperclassmen.

That's when I learned about a camp just for mascots like me at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa.

Once we got to the camp—my mascot trainer and me that is—I met about 20 other mascots who were trying to better represent their schools, too. We discussed grooming, cleaning and dancing, learned how to express different emotions with our bodies by walking down a runway and acting them out, and how to eat properly before games (no zebra feasts at least an hour beforehand). We also worked on acrobatics and stilt-walking and did a lot of fitness training. Boy, was I whipped back into shape.

The next morning we ran laps while the air was still cool, followed by jogging in place, and repeated that until we almost couldn't go any further. It served an important purpose, though: I have to take pride (no pun intended) in my appearance and stay in shape to be able to represent Albright at all of the games and events throughout the year.

We also watched videos of professional mascots such as Benny the Bull from the Chicago Bears and the introduction of the Mad Cow by the Florida Panthers to learn the mannerisms and subtle movements that make them among the best mascots in the world. You'll see some of the new acting techniques that I picked up in our new videos this year, such as the promo for "Game On" Homecoming Weekend.

It was also great to learn from other mascots such as the Red Robin, who taught us about props to use and outfits to wear, and where to get your clothes (things didn't turn out so well the last time I tried just going to the mall). My trainer helped me pick out a few new outfits that I'm eager to wear, like my snazzy red sneakers.

I wore all my Albright gear at our final test, a performance during mascot night at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster. I did a lot of frolicking with Norm the Hawk, who turned out to be a great friend. We high-fived, danced and cheered our way through the stadium, and even including the boxes on the second level. Now that Norm's my buddy, we've Skyped a few times and exchanged mascot ideas for our school.

Attending camp helped me feel so much more prepared and ready to tackle all of my appearances this year. If you see me around campus, come up and give me a high-five! I know I'm not the "mane" attraction at Albright sporting events, but I feel the skills I learned over the summer, along with the excitement that was generated, will help me be a better mascot, better able to support our talented student-athletes.

I also learned that I've been silent for too long. While I'm not allowed to talk, I like having a voice and would love to continue sharing my stories with my fellow Albrightians. Keep on the lookout for more of my lion stories, to be posted on the Albright Web site. Go, Lions!

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