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YoUDee goes to summer camp

Bob Boudwin, BE ‘97, demonstrates the well-known YoUDee strut during a coaching session with the mascot team.
4:45 p.m., Aug. 29, 2005--No matter what the occasion or celebration, there’s a feeling of excitement, anticipation and fun whenever YoUDee, the Fightin’ Blue Hens mascot, makes an appearance--chest out, head up, wings waving and tail feathers swishing and swooping, as the big bird struts around in size 28F gym shoes.

But, back at the Fightin’ Blue Hen House, a lot goes on to prepare for the famed bird’s appearances as the humorous, huggable, mischievous mascot and symbol of the University of Delaware’s school spirit.

In actuality, YoUDee is a composite of student performers, with Sharon Harris, assistant director of the Office of Public Relations, serving as mascot coordinator.

“Each fall, a camp is held to help team members hone their skills as mascots,” Harris said. “This year, we were fortunate to have the original YoUDee, Bob Boudwin, return to the University and donate his time to coach the mascot team.”

“He is the one who really created YoUDee’s personality and well-known strut when the new UD mascot was introduced in 1993,” Mary Hempel, director of public relations, explained.

As YoUDee in 1995, Boudwin won first place at the Northeast Regional Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) summer camp and 11th place nationally at the UCA championship. He also was selected as West Coast mascot instructor for UCA’s summer camps in 1995.

His success brought him to the attention of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, and Boudwin was invited to audition to become their mascot, Clutch the bear, and has been there ever since.

Boudwin, BE ’97, spent three days with members of the YoUDee team, sharing tips, working with them on skits and critiquing their performances in several public venues they visited.

On one occasion, Boudwin took the team on a walk through Boscov’s department store, where members took turns as YoUDee and interacted with customers.

Afterward, Boudwin commented on their performances and gave them ideas and suggestions for their appearances as YoUDee.

“Remember, YoUDee struts, not saunters,” he said. “Swing your head from side to side. Among other things, it helps increase your field of vision.”

Another suggestion: Since children love mascots, spend time with them. “Get down on their level; let them feel your wings,” he said.

One bit of business he suggested when a child, usually a boy, has untied shoes. “Point at the shoes, step on the laces, act impatient but show that you’re not leaving until those shoes are tied, and eventually the child will give in and tie his shoes,” Boudwin said.

One Boscov customer ignored YoUDee, Boudwin said, and YoUDee acted just right--head down, acting deflated and rejected until she relented and acknowledged the bird.

“When you do skits or interact with an audience, take your time, don’t rush it. And, be spontaneous,” Boudwin said as he demonstrated a skit he has used with success.

“In play-off games, put the emphasis on spirit and get the audience to participate and show their support by clapping, stomping and yelling,” he said.

In Houston, Boudwin also performs as Haley, the Houston Comets’ women’s basketball team mascot.

The Houston Rockets is a family affair as Boudwin’s wife, Susanna, is the dance team director for the Rocket Power Dancers.

“I love my job; I live my job; it defines me,” Boudwin said. “There is so much involved. A mascot is an entertainer, a mime, a jack-of-all-trades and embodies school or team spirit--doing stunts, juggling, doing magic, dancing, playing the drums, roller blading and interacting with the audience. Being Clutch is a full-time job, with 75 home games and 250 to 300 appearances each year.”

“Women and children like mascots,” Boudwin said, “but my real challenge is men from 35 to 55 (they’re the ones who buy the tickets) and getting them to smile and laugh and react to Clutch.”

His job as mascot has taken him to Russia and to China. “The Rockets’ 7-and-a-half-foot center, Yao Ming, is from China and has rock star status there, and the Chinese follow his career and are familiar with Clutch as well,” he said.

Boudwin also has a kids antidrug, antismoking, proreading program for children, “Building a Future with Clutch,” which he takes on the road by visiting schools.

“I am grateful to the University for giving me the opportunity to be YoUDee, which has led to my career as a mascot. I was pleased to be invited to coach the mascot team because I want the mascot program to continue to thrive, and I also want to give back to the University, which gave me my start,” Boudwin said.

He credits UD President David Roselle and the public relations office for starting and supporting the mascot program and giving it the resources to succeed.

“All of us at the University take great pride in Bob’s accomplishments, and we very much appreciate his willingness to coach the current students who share his interest in mascoting,” Roselle said.

Boudwin said he plans to help out with the mascot camp every year. He also is planning an appearance as Clutch at UD’s final basketball game with Old Dominion, Saturday, Feb. 25.

Article by Sue Moncure
Photos by Sarah Simon

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