The Man Behind the Mask: Student Mascot Explores the Benefits of School Spirit
Attending a highly selective liberal arts institution is no easy task, and many Truman students would attest to a heavy workload. Between group projects, labs, papers and tests, free time can be tough to come by, but junior nursing major Alex Scherr thinks there is more to the college experience than a course of study.
Scherr has had the unique experience of viewing his time at Truman through the eyes of Spike, the University’s beloved Bulldog mascot. While his involvement in the nursing program and other extra curricular activities like the Lutheran Student Fellowship take up a large bulk of his time, he sets aside roughly five hours a week to inspire purple pride as Spike. Rather than seeing this as a time commitment, Scherr feels it is a necessary supplement to his busy schedule.
“No matter how the week is going, I block everything out when I put on the Spike suit and tell myself that it is time to relax and have fun,” Scherr said. “I really do feel that the Spike costume helps me calm down and block out academic stressors.”
Scherr began his mascot career as the Viking during his final two years at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, Mo. Upon attending a Truman visit day, Scherr spoke with a cheerleading information table to express his interest in being a mascot, and after filling out an application, he was approached during his summer orientation and offered the position. Three years later, Scherr still proudly wears the Bulldog uniform.
While the nursing program at Truman offers a comprehensive education grounded in a community-based, liberal arts experience, Scherr views his time as Spike as an opportunity to further his learning outside the classroom.
“I encounter plenty of kids during Spike festivities and understanding how to interact with them and not scare them can be challenging,” Scherr said. “I have learned techniques as Spike to help kids approach me better. If I kneel down next to children instead of towering over them in an examination room, I will have more success connecting with them and a much greater chance of giving effective care.”
This enthusiasm for connecting with the campus community is reflected in some of Scherr’s favorite experiences as Spike, including signing autographs for middle school students during Homecoming week and receiving a giant ring as a proposal from a student.
“In my opinion, school spirit helps students reduce stress with academics, improve winning percentages of the school’s home teams and improve the mood of the student and faculty population,” Scherr said. “Although school activities will take some time away from studying, it is really important to give your mind and body a break and enjoy your college experience.”
Hear Alex talk about Spike’s 100th birthday: