Freshmen psychology major brings life to mascot

Will Siegfried says he has learned much since taking on the job of the Lion Mascot this semester.

Will Siegfried says he has learned much since taking on the job of the Lion Mascot this semester.

Hallie Hocker

Behind the mask of the 6-foot-6 king of the jungle, Will Siegfried brings the roar into Leo the Lion’s life.

While Siegfried, a freshman psychology major, didn’t come to Southern to fill the shoes of Leo the mascot, he definitely took the role of Southern’s beloved lion.

Siegfried has had several different reactions to his character.

“At the Harding game, 10 kids attacked me at the same time,” he said.

Siegfried said he thinks the new mascot suit is less ferocious and a lot more kid-friendly than the old suit.

Kids aren’t the only ones who are attracted to Siegfried as he masquerades as Leo. While in the suit, he has been hit on by women and invited to a party by some men. He even had a fan call him “Favre” since Leo’s jersey is similar to that of Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers.

Despite whatever reactions he receives, Siegfried said he does it for the fans.

“I’m there to make the fans happy,” he said. “The mascot pumps up the crowd: the crowd pumps up the players.”

Siegfried heard about the mascot position from a friend who was Southern’s mascot last year. He also knew the former and current cheerleading coaches.

“It sounded like fun,” he said. “I get to meet new people. It’s something good to get involved in – it’s not math or quiz bowl.”

Siegfried loves that he’s a cheerleader. This summer he attended a Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at Southwest Missouri State University along with Southern’s cheerleaders and dance team members.

“I learned how to be a mascot and not just a guy in a suit,” he said. “I also learned how to animate the character.”

Siegfried said he also learned about the physical limits that a mascot has. To help control the body heat in the suit, there is a fan inside the top of the head that runs off of two 9-Volt batteries. Before every game, he also inserts ice packs into the suit to keep him cool.

However, sometimes even this isn’t enough.

“At the first home game, I ended up taking a break in the third quarter,” he said. “My ice was body temperature and I chugged water like a mad dog. It gets hot, and you sweat a lot. You have to know your limits.”

Siegfried also brings brains to Leo’s brawn as a member of Southern’s Honors Program. With a degree in psychology, he plans on becoming a psychiatrist.

He said he wants to treat people with everyday problems.

Outside his alter-ego as Leo, Siegfried enjoys computer games and just having a good time.

Siegfried one of the best parts about college is that he can sleep whenever and however he wants.

Between sleeping, honors classes and role playing as Leo the mascot, Siegfried finds a way to do it all.

“You have to take every day one at a time,” he said.