His presence is unmistakable. Whether he is stealing your drink or making frantic, undecipherable hand gestures, when you walk into a Belmont basketball game you know exactly who he is. He keeps the atmosphere exciting and riles the audience up no matter the score.
You know him as the fun-loving, mischief-causing bear, Bruiser. But there is a great mystery lying beneath that furry exterior. You know his name, but do you know his story?
We tracked down the man behind the mask, and he gave us the uncensored truth about Bruiser himself. For confidentiality purposes, we cannot disclose Bruiser’s true identity, but we can tell his story.
The way Bruiser tells it, our story begins back in 1996, when Belmont first moved into NCAA Division I competition, which gave rise to a new mascot: the Belmont Bruin.
A bear by the name of Ned was chosen for this prestigious inaugural role. An arrangement that started off with so much optimism quickly turned to tragedy. Being Belmont’s mascot inflated Ned’s ego, and led to a dangerous honey addiction ultimately resulting in him stepping down and separating from Belmont.
That is when a Belmont intern by the name of Bruiser stepped up. In Belmont’s time of need, Bruiser rose to the challenge, becoming Belmont’s most lovable mascot to date. He was an automatic perfect fit for the job.
When he is not at basketball games or other Belmont athletic events, Bruiser catches up on his sleep in the Bell Tower. With a rigorous schedule of two to six events a week, a bear needs to rest and re-energize!
Bruiser keeps up his energy during doubleheaders by munching on bison, which just so happens to be Lipscomb University’s mascot.
In addition to being incredibly studious and attending all of his classes, Bruiser prides himself on regularly studying the Bible. He also makes time in his busy schedule to be at church every Sunday.
But more than anything else, Bruiser loves supporting Belmont athletics, bringing smiles to so many different faces — from kids to students to older folks. Seeing those smiles and making memories with fans is what makes all the hard work so rewarding.
“He’s really a big, fun bear,” said the man behind the mask. “He likes to cause trouble every once in a while. He’ll steal somebody’s drink, or he’ll try to text on a phone and then throw it across the court because his fingers don’t work on iPhones — but he’s just always very positive and supports Belmont no matter what.”
Bruiser wants his fellow Bruins to know he loves all Belmont sports, and wishes he could make it out to more games other than just basketball. He also wishes more people understood Bear Sign Language, as it is incredibly difficult to communicate with hand gestures alone.
As for the man inside the suit, his identity remains unknown to nearly everyone. He leads a kind of double life, careful to never give away his long-kept secret.
But no one can be Bruiser forever. Soon this man will move on, and he’s looking for someone to fill his suit.
“Definitely if you’re interested, do it,” he said. “Channel your own enthusiasm and excitement through Bruiser. Nobody knows who you are, so you can go wild.”
Belmont cheerleading and mascot tryouts for the 2018-19 season will occur April 20-21. Tryout packets are due April 19. For more information, contact head cheerleading coach Lindsey Wheeley at (615)-415-3989.
This article written by Nicole Brown.