All-Star Mascot Entertains All At Local ARRG Bouts
by The Grand Poobah – Photos by Bob Dunnell
Mascots for athletic teams have been a long-time staple of enjoyment for fans – especially little ones.
The local contingent has its strong list of credentialed characters. The Cardinals have Fredbird, the Blues have Louie and St. Louis University has…….well, I’m not quite sure what that thing actually is…..
And then there’s Archie – ARRG’s official mascot – perhaps the most imposing one of them all. Dressed in full pirate regalia (complete with spyglass to rise to his massive 15-pound head), legend has it that this buccaneer in December heroically bounded a rock concert stage with the enthusiasm of a nine-year-old on a sugar fix.
A presence at ARRG events since late 2008, the seaman performs for audiences at ARRG All-Star bouts at the All-American Sports Mall, and even makes the occasional road trip when opportunity presents itself.
And to backtrack, he’s not imposing because he’s mean-looking, but our juggernaut of jeerleading seems like the kind who would not hesitate to hypothetically make one of his fuzzy counterparts walk the plank, if necessary.
For the purposes of anonymity, we’ll keep Archie’s complete identity concealed as best as possible (think about it, have you ever seen an interview with Fredbird sans mask?)
And although the man underneath the costume has the distinction as being the oldest active jeerleader in the WFTDA, let’s just say there’s a person in there that’s young at heart.
The idea of the swashbuckler was dreamt as the ARRG All-Stars battled the NWA Killbillies at an October 2008 bout. A man who sat in the audience, who had no prior connection to the league, became enamored with what he saw on and off the track, and wanted to make a contribution.
“I saw the girls skate out, waving pirate flags, and saw that some of the fans were waving pirate flags as well,” recalls Archie about that night. “I read something in the program about them wearing pirate socks and saw the pictures. I had just attended the Pirate Festival (in Missouri) in September. I looked around and saw the Jeerleaders cheering them on and noticed that they didn’t have a mascot. I thought to myself, ‘I could do this.’”
After contacting the league, and after a brief volunteer inauguration, the plan was in place to make the fan’s conceptualization a reality – the first step being to give the character a name and an identity.
“I was supposed to be ‘Louie the Pirate’,” says the buccaneer, which would have been a play off the performer’s name. “Then, we discovered that the St. Louis Blues’ mascot was named ‘Louie,’ so we had to come up with a different name. ”
An ARRG skater suggested “Archie the Pirate,” which not only fit the character but also effectively incorporated the league’s name.
Next came the costume - portions of which are hand-made, others fabricated by trade smiths, some store-bought – all self-purchased. However, the outfit needed that little extra sizzle. As one who was influenced by major-league baseball mascots like Fredbird and the Philly Phanatic, the newbie entertainer soon found his hidden treasure – which became Archie’s most recognizable feature – the giant pirate’s head.
“I remembered seeing a pirate head at the costume shop that I deal with,” says Archie. “Well, I kind of had two to choose from, but the one (not chosen) was kind of scary and not real-kid friendly. So I went with the bigger one.”
Obtaining the massive head was the simple part – the next task was to actually maneuver both port and starboard with it on, a function made difficult with the small 1″ x 5″ window of visibility.
“I read up on being a mascot,” says the performer. “I saw where they suggested that I have an escort so I roped Captain Kid (his shipmate) into helping me out there. We practiced at my home before the first bout, going up and down stairs and stuff. We came up with our own sign language system to help us communicate with each other.”
With all preparation in place, it came the time for the near 7-footer’s inaugural journey into jeerleaderdom at a home ARRG All-Star bout against Kansas City.
The end result?
“Well, I for one was really nervous,” recalls the swashbuckler. “So I thought I would warm up by going over to the K.C. side, to sort of be a welcoming committee for the league. Things over there went well. I even had my picture taken.
“Then I moseyed over to our side. There was one kid crying before I even got there. I don’t know if he was crying about me or what! That almost blew my idea right there. But all in all, the rest of the crowd was really receptive, and I have to say, downright supportive.”
Archie prefers to keep his act simple – waves, handshakes, high-fives, the blowing of kisses and a tip of the cap to ladies – perhaps by design because of the excruciating conditions while performing in the summertime kiln known as the All-American Sports Mall.
“For my age, I’m in pretty good shape, but there was concern (about the heat)” says Archie. “I went to the drugstore and got one of those ice gel coolers that you wear around your back, only I wear it on my head. I also have gel packs stuffed into my waistband. Those I usually change out at halftime. ”
But even with precaution, the paraphernalia can be a perilous to even to a professional plunderer.
“I remember one bout (a doubleheader) where the air conditioning was out,” says Archie. “It was in the 90′s outside. They gave me the option of not doing it that night, but I told them I wanted to – didn’t want to disappoint the fans.
“I kept lifting up the head and getting big gulps of ice water all night long to keep myself hydrated. The icebag on my head ran hot about a half-hour before the bout was over. That was rough, but I made it through. Everyone told me I went above and beyond the call that night. I was drenched in sweat. My boots were even soaked.”
But just like all of his contemporaries, the literal “sweat-equity” involved in being a mascot is personally satisfying when it comes to the end result – enjoyment by the little landlubbers.
“I’ve always wanted the character to be something for the kids to watch,” says the mascot. “I remember (one skater’s) daughter being so enamored with me. She brought her friends to the game and had pictures taken with me. I think she’s my biggest fan. I love having my picture taken with the kids, although the whole ‘getting back up after I bend down’ part is a challenge. Thank heavens for Captain Kid!”
The interplay with the adults also leads to random moments of fun, not to mention many photographic opportunities. And to keep the home audience guessing, the jeerleader will occasionally arrive as a completely different character, such as a 6-foot tall M-80 firecracker. The performer has even hinted at the debut of a new character to be revealed in a few weeks.
So one might ask – and in the case of Archie, one HAS to ask - considering the physical demands in portraying a mascot coupled with the additional expense of self-financing the character, why would one do this?
“My motivation? I’ve always had a dream of being a big-headed mascot for a sports team,” replies Archie. “Something like that had always been on my bucket list. And at my age, that list is getting short. I’ve done a lot in my lifetime and this might be the last fun thing that I’ll do in my lifetime. So considering that, I’m really motivated to give it all I’ve got and do the best I can.
“This being one of the last things on my bucket list, that’s my motivation. Then I look through the hole in my costume head and see all the smiles on all the faces. And if even though it costs me money to do this, all those smiles are worth it – definitely.”
ARRG FANS TESTED AT SECOND ANNUAL TRIVIA NIGHT
(MAPLEWOOD, MO) This past Saturday saw the second annual ARRG Trivia Night, which saw numerous tables of ten compete in a free-for-all battle of knowledge. We thank each of every one of you for participating in a fun night of educational knowledge.
First Place – Table 13: Team Members – Eli Wallop, Black-N-Blueberry, Banana Split-Lip, Hedda Crusher, A.Tom Crusher, Brtiney M., Mike B., Scotty H., and J.R. J.
Second Place – Table 14: Team Members – Suri O’ Killer, Cherry Chernobyl, Bare Knuckle Smack, Hi-Refintion, The Grand Poobah, Nemesistah, Mistah Nemesistah, Ken Evil & Lil’ Evil and Shontae F.
Third Place – Table 1
The prize for the table-decorating contest went to “The Nerds,” which broke through the heavy pack of contenders to claim the brass ring. There were numerous great themes, some of which cannot be exposed to the G-rated audience of archrivalrollergirls.com. Nontheless, the effort put forward in making your table stand out was much appreciated.
Our winner of the 50/50 drawing walked home with a grand prize of $300+. Thanks to all those who donated!
Also, much thanks goes to Mike Raphone and Grave Danger for their excellent work as emcees for the evening. They provided excelllent commentary to the proceedings and their work is much appreciated!
NEXT WEEK: Hells LaBelle previews bout #2…the M-80s look to even their season record in a battle against the Smashinistas….However, the Smashies have other thoughts in mind.
The Grand Poobah and Hells LaBelle are bout announcers for the 2010 season of the Arch Rival Rollergirls. Check back in this section on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news and information.