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If you’ve seen Bucky Badger at a high-scoring football game, you know he has some serious stamina. Who else could do 573 push-ups in two hours? But even Bucky can’t cover more than 700 events in a year. That’s why there are typically seven students playing the UW mascot, ensuring that each sporting event, wedding, birthday, hospital visit, parade, and more has a fresh, endlessly energetic Bucky. Every spring, the UW Spirit Squad hosts a three-day tryout for Bucky wannabes. The second day is an optional ice-skating tryout, which gives the mascot hopefuls a chance to exhibit their expawtise on the ice. The most proficient skaters get scheduled to appear at UW hockey games — if they also impress the hiring panel with their improv, dance, and push-up abilities. Traditionally, students playing Bucky stay anonymous to help maintain the mystique of a one, true mascot. Plus, keeping your side gig secret makes it harder for pranksters to steal your 35-pound badger head. This makes it difficult to determine who’s in the Bucky suit at any given appearance, but some former mascots, like Sam Reding ’19, reveal their identities after graduation. In a 2022 article in the Athletic, Reding reminisced about his time as the UW’s beloved mascot, including his hockey game appearances. Another hockey Bucky, David Blanchard ’10, was revealed when a news outlet reported he was slashed in the shins during a tumultuous game against North Dakota in 2007. It’s not easy being Bucky. Thankfully, there’s a powerful, secret furternity of mascots ready to provide backup.

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