Behind the Scenes: Bogey the Bearcat

By: Kristina Ferry

Bogey the Bearcat has been the face of McKendree University since the 1960s. The mascot has evolved over the years from a simple bear mask to a full-fledged suit. This month I have sat down with the dance team’s coach and Bogey’s caretaker, Sara Miller, to delve into the behind-the-scenes of who Bogey is, what his schedule is like and what students adore about him.

Without spoiling the magic, Miller has provided more about who has the opportunity to play Bogey. She revealed that the privilege of playing Bogey differs from year to year but this year he is played by two students. These students are usually on the dance team but that is not a requirement to be Bogey. All that is required is for a student to participate in the work-study program and to sit down for an interview to confirm they have the skills to bring this beloved character to life. They must be able to dance and jump around in a costume commonly referred to as “brutally hot” and be between 5’7 and 6 feet tall to accurately fill out the uniform. While only a few faculty members know who these lovely people are, there is a small way that they get acknowledged for their hard work. At graduation, those who helped bring Bogey to life wear something unique to hint at their “secret second life,” whether it is a t-shirt underneath their robe or a pin. Other than this small detail, those who bring him to life do not receive much credit. Even without this credit, many come back year after year to reprise their role as Bogey since they can adopt a completely new personality and bring life to a well-adored character. 

Photo taken by Phoebe Mccutcheon

Even though it may seem effortless, the requirements to bring Bogey to life are extensive. Sara Miller keeps Bogey safe in her office and certifies that he is properly dressed for his events and always looking his best. According to Miller, Bogey has a football jersey, a basketball jersey, a baseball jersey, and his everyday casual wear. Many complications with Bogey can occur, like his fur getting wet or the suit becoming too hot, but much care is taken to ensure that he and those that bring him to life are always safe. 

To prepare for a game, Bogey practices with the dance team 24 to 48 hours in advance to ensure that he knows the routine. During games, Bogey’s goal is to get the crowd pumped up and show true McKendree spirit; he achieves this by either getting excited in the stands or performing with his team. According to Miller, her favorite part about Bogey is the spirit he brings to McKendree events. Many fans feel the same way. Additionally, many children adore Bogey, especially in his new form and constantly run up to him. 

While there are many behind-the-scenes facts that the McKendree community will never know about Bogey, he is someone to be admired. Those who put their time into bringing him to life, both inside and outside the suit, deserve the utmost respect. Bogey will never be easy to pull off but the joy that he brings to all ages makes the effort worth it. 

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