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University of Missouri

Eyeing Role of Mascot

Truman is part swagger, part humor and all spirit.

vintage tiger mascot head

This Tiger head from the past had an open, grinning maw. Photo illustration by Blake Dinsdale.

Freshman year, I spotted campus signs encouraging students to audition for the Tiger mascot role. How tough could this be? Certainly right up my alley: high school cheerleader and halftime dance performer — I knew how to work a crowd of hundreds. How different could thousands be?

I showed up in Memorial Union at the appointed time along with what seemed like half the student body. I didn’t turn tail and run (though I thought of it). The interview was going great until — surprise — “Show us your Tiger walk.”

As a freshman, I was not yet a skilled observer of the mascot during football games on Faurot Field. Dang! I was unprepared. My saunter with attitude was a total flop. So much for being a mascot. At least I avoided the metal scratches from the retro costume heads made of chicken wire.

I can relate to faculty member Paul Crabb, who as a young man struggled through a voice recital in college. “I was so nervous that I had to hold on to the piano,” he says in our feature, “Lifting Voices.” After that experience, he eventually decided that his voice wasn’t strong enough to sing professionally. He prepared instead to conduct singers. How lucky for Mizzou. He’s been successfully directing our student singers since 2003.

In this issue, enjoy stories of alumni who succeeded at being Truman, as well as conductor Crabb’s story.