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Bruiser: a job worth bearing

At every Belmont basketball game, Bruiser is in the business of boosting the bond between the bleachers and the ballgame.

But outside of basketball, all the responsibilities associated with being a mascot are a bit, well … fuzzy.

Being Bruiser is a whole lot to bear, Chris Flippo said. Unlike most jobs, Flippo doesn’t have to say a word at work, but he said it has taken a lot of practice to feel natural.

“Eventually you get to the point where your actions have to speak for you. So you really don’t need to talk,” he said.

Flippo entered as a freshman with prior experience as a mascot for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team from Alabama. And after Bruiser tryouts, he landed the only mascot position for the year.

Although he had experience in the field, Flippo and Bruiser followed the cheerleaders to Universal Cheerleaders Association camp, where they really got acquainted. Instead of training with the cheerleaders, Flippo worked with other mascots and mascot director Benji Gray to find Bruiser’s character.

“Bruiser is kind of like me, but amplified,” Flippo said, “He’s very mischievous, he likes to mess with people, have a good time and just cheer on his team.”

Flippo also learned to think on his feet at UCA camp, enabling him to really entertain crowds better.

“I remember at the 5K marathon, the Lipscomb bison was there so we talked before and faked a fight and then went into rock, paper, scissors,” Flippo said. “It’s fun to play on the rivalries.”

It’s all about performance.

“You just have to think, ‘Everyone’s looking at me, what can I do to entertain them?’”

Before he learned to entertain, he had to learn how to carry himself inside the Bruiser costume while stepping outside his comfort zone.

“Your vision is very narrow and you have a blind spot right in the center of your face. You have to learn not to look right at them so you can see them, but so Bruiser is looking at them.”

While Flippo has learned so much from becoming a mascot, he says it’s the reaction from fans that makes all the hot days worth it.

“When you’re messing with a kid and they’re just laughing with a huge smile on their face, it makes your job worth it.”

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