It is school tradition at Appalachian that the student acting as the mascot Yosef does not reveal their identity. Yosef, however, is such a powerful character at ASU that exploring the student under the suit is essential to understanding the student body of Appalachian State.
Like many students at Appalachian "Yosef" is from a small North Carolina town. Misenheimer, N.C. is the exact location "Yosef" claims as his birthplace. While growing up in this small town, "Yosef" watched sports on television and was amused by mascots at athletic events. He never dreamed, however, that one day he would represent his own university in this capacity.
"Yosef" grew up cheering for his favorite ACC team, not the Mountaineers. However, as a student at Appalachian, he feels it is also important to support the men and women who represent his university. "Yosef" believes they are more than just players on a field or court. To him they are positive representatives of the ASU student body.
"Yosef" is a reserved man of few words. His tall stature and sturdy build are essential to the intimidating presence a mascot should possess.
Motivated by overwhelming school spirit, he assumed the role of Yosef during tryouts in April 2003. That following summer he said he attended mascot camp to prepare for the upcoming football season. Since then, the man under the bulky Yosef costume has grown into a delightful crowd pleaser.
Similar to other athletes, he too takes the time to get psyched up for games. As he is surrounded by the pre-game commotion of players shooting and cheerleaders flying, he sits calmly listening to headphones that play hard rock music. He says this helps him get juiced up and energized so when fans enter he can be ready to give them a good show.
His experience as a mascot has opened his eyes to future career possibilities. What really puts a smile on this man's face is the thought of becoming the mascot of a professional sports team. He is an avid Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Bobcats fan and would one day love to act as Sir Pur or Rufus.
Before one takes on a career, however, they must first select a major, which this junior has yet to do. Many options lay before our enthusiastic mascot, who is interested in graphics or psychology. Lately, he has also realized that skills learned in theatre would be beneficial to his future career ambitions.
As you can see, "Yosef" did not come in to ASU a Mountaineer sports fan, but he embraced the idea while he was here. And one day, he will leave his Yosef costume behind as he transitions onto a professional career.
Many of us may not have grown up cheering for the Mountaineers. Like "Yosef" we probably watched ACC competition and had a favorite on tobacco road. And one day, we too will leave this campus after many years of study and searching to find out who we are and what we want to become.
But while we are here, lets follow the head Mountaineer's example and embrace the experiences our university has to offer during our special time at Appalachian.
Originated in 1942, Yosef was drawn as a character to fill white space in the Rhododendron. Since then, he has come to life and experienced many changes over the years. Currently, he portrays the strong firm face of a mountain man with a thick gray beard. His costume of blue jean overhauls and a yellow flannel shirt has remained constant since his origination.
Once upon a time, Yosef had a voice in The Appalachian during the late 1940s called "Musings of a Mountaineer". Since the end of this column in 1949, Yosef has kept to himself, but has been yearning to come out and yell with students and members of the Boone community
Just like the man behind the mask, Yosef possesses an abundance of school spirit. He thrives off the rush he gets from a crowd and believes the athletes of Appalachian do as well. The Mountaineer Maniacs are a huge contributor to the energy Yosef draws from. He says these students provide an atmosphere in which he can operate at his best.
One example of how the Maniacs have literally assisted Yosef is when he took a tumble on the sidelines during a basketball game this season. Yosef was running full force when he stumbled and landed in front of the rowdy student group.
As a dazed Yosef wobbly tried to stand to his feet, students in the crowd came to his aid as they chuckled at this humorous moment in Yosef's career.
Just as Yosef needed physical support after his fall, the Mountaineer basketball team needs our support as they prepare to take on Western Carolina Feb. 22. This game will be televised and Yosef really wants to show the country what a great student body and community surrounds ASU's quality basketball team.
Working with kids from the community is also enjoyable for this burly mascot. He fears, however, that his stern face and large stature are intimidating to young fans.
Though his demeanor is serious, his actions are amusing. Referees are among his favorite resources for goofy gestures during games. Although Yosef has high integrity and would never harm a soul, a ref has warned "you better get away from here" when he wandered too close to an official's huddle.
Opposing mascots are another group Yosef does not mind getting up close and personal with. The Catamount of Western Carolina is Yosef's favorite target of opposition. He reported that they have exchanged words once in the past, even though this is a violation Yosef's sideline rules.
Since that time, Yosef has only had to point to the scoreboard and swagger by his rival to prove his superiority as the best mascot in the mountains.
Yosef hopes for another exception against Western Carolina, and that is for the Holmes Convocation Center to be filled to capacity as the Mountaineers face the Catamounts on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
This is the last home game for the Mountaineer basketball team in 2005 and Yosef's appearances will be sparse until football season next fall.
Yosef is a proud mascot and would never beg for attention. Though he is hoping for all loyal Mountaineer students and fans to come support the ASU men's basketball team since they are in contention for No. 1 in the North Division of the Southern Conference.
Date of Birth: April 4, 1983
Favorite food: Pizza
Hobbies: Sports video games
Dream job: Sir Pur of the Carolina Panthers
Favorite music: Hard rock, Limp Bizkit
Favorite day of the week: Saturday
Current challenge: Finding a major
Date of Birth: 1942
Favorite Food: Papa John's Pizza
Hobbies: Attending ASU sporting events
Dream job: Has it
Favorite Music: "Go Apps, Fight Apps, Win Apps", N.C.'s Band of Distinction & Basketball
Favorite day of the week: Game day
Current challenge: Cheering the Mountaineer basketball team to a victory over archrival Western Carolina