By Laura Bauman
Everyone on the University of Wisconsin–Stout campus knows Blaze. He’s the crazy blue guy with devil horns messing with you and trying to get you to a game. Blaze is the guy you took a picture with at freshman orientation and the guy who keeps Blue Devils fans pumped up no matter sport is playing or what score it is. Everyone knows Blaze, in costume, but who is behind the mask?
Logan Woller, a 2013 graduate in the Marketing and Business Education program at UW–Stout gave up his free time during his senior year of college to entertain UW–Stout sport enthusiasts. He put on a suit and an oversized head to become Blaze.
“My favorite thing was making people smile and take their mind off everything for 30 seconds and enjoy the moment,” said Woller.
Woller served as Blaze from September 2012 through February 2013 and said that one of the reasons he took the job was because a friend’s dad influenced him.
“One of my friend’s dad was a mascot and they were really proud of him: talking him up and saying how awesome he was,” said Woller. “I wanted people to remember me for bringing a smile and joy to everyone I interact with.”
Woller said he found the job on the UW–Stout website and knew that he was the right person for it.
“I’ve always loved entertaining people and especially large crowds,” said Woller. “I enjoyed messing around with kids and old folks.”
Despite his enthusiasm, he didn’t plan on having a job his senior year, let alone being the college mascot.
“It was on my bucket list to be a mascot, so I grabbed the bull by the horns and decided you only live once,” explained Woller.
Students see Blaze on campus all the time, but Woller said that his time commitment wasn’t much more than a normal part-time job.
“I mostly did football, soccer, hockey, basketball and the occasional photo shoot for incoming freshman students,” said Woller.
But those weren’t his only duties. Woller did a lot of extra work to make UW–Stout look awesome by promoting sporting events, visiting local schools and attending fundraising events.
“To help advertise the sporting events, I would run around downtown Menomonie with a sign telling people about the upcoming events,” said Woller. “When I was on campus, I would carry a boombox and a cardboard square and challenge people to dance-offs.”
Although Woller’s job sounds like all fun and games, there were some drawbacks to the position.
“I gave up my free time to work with the dance team and cheer team, I taught myself how to do backflips and attempted to breakdance with the mascot suit on,” explained Woller.
Since anonymity is such an important thing when being a mascot, Woller had to be careful who he told.
“My roommates knew right away because they knew I was going to interview for it,” said Woller. “A lot of my close friends found out it was me through my movements and dance moves because they’ve spent enough time around me.”
One thing that was particularly difficult for Woller was the fact that mascots can’t speak. Woller, who is a huge talker, said it was a strange switch for him.
“It’s impossible for me not to make a noise after 10 minutes of silence, so not saying anything for 4 hours was out of the picture,” explained Woller. “I would try to get people to rap to my beat boxing, or I would make sound effects.”
As the center of attention, Woller also had to know how to handle making a mistake or messing up while performing a stunt, by getting up and moving on.
“I would make mistakes all the time, but no one knew I messed up,” Woller said. “I tripped at a basketball game in front of everyone, and then I made the half-court shot on my first try. Another time I fell from the top of the pyramid the cheer team made, and then I beat the dance team in a dance-off.”
Woller says that the dance team will still say that they won the dance off, but he knows who really won. Either way, he was able to make an impression, which was his favorite part of the job.
“It’s crazy how one person in a costume with an oversized head can make an impression on anyone, from little kids to 80-year-old people,” said Woller.
Woller’s enthusiasm and love for his job is inspiring, and even though he’s no longer the person in the suit, his UW–Stout pride still rings strong.