Tony Middlebrooks and his leadership class are giving YoUDee a hand in the 2013 mascot national championship competition.

YoUDee in the classroom

SPPA leadership class develops skits for national mascot competition

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1:08 p.m., Nov. 8, 2012--Tony Middlebrooks, associate professor in the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy and Administration, is getting his leadership students involved in the YoUDee mascot program. 

Students in the LEAD300 Leadership, Creativity and Innovation class are putting their lessons into practice to develop a skit for YoUDee to perform at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) mascot competition to be held in Orlando, Fla., in January 2013.

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“They are designing an experience. It’s a big leap from concrete to abstract,” Middlebrooks said. 

In groups, the students must develop a fun and interactive 90-second skit with a set theme and no more than 10 props or visuals. With only two weeks to prepare their skits, the students are challenged to use their three stages of idea development that Middlebrooks emphasizes in the course — understand, imagine, iterate.

“One of the things we do early on is 100 uses,” Middlebrooks said. He tells his students to develop a list of 100 ideas, or in this case themes.

When they bring Middlebrooks their lists, he tells them to come up with 100 more. “I really push them to be more creative. What they think is their creative limit really isn’t. They just need someone to shove them out of their box.”

Sharon Harris of the Office of Communications and Marketing, director of the mascot program, said of the upcoming competition that “only the top mascots get to go to nationals.”

YoUDee, a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame, won its first national championship in 2002 and added titles again in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Because of the intense level of competition, Harris said it is helpful to open the creative process to students beyond the mascot program. “Tony brought the idea to me two years ago, and now we are doing it again. It’s a lot of fun for the students.”

“The students have to make their skits without spending money on it. It poses a great challenge to Middlebrooks’ design class,” Harris explained. “Getting selected for nationals is a great honor for the mascot program and everyone involved because they all put so much into it.”

“I had one of the UD mascots in my class a couple of years ago,” Middlebrooks said.

After some discussion, Middlebrooks said he contacted Harris to begin collaborating with the program. “I don’t do the same things in my class every semester, but this semester I have another mascot in my class so we brought the competition back.”

“It motivates the students, because it’s a real-world connection.” Middlebrooks said. “The fun thing about the YoUDee challenge is that they know they are actually helping out the mascot program, so it’s really fun for them to see some of their ideas incorporated into YoUDee’s skit.” 

On Oct. 23, each group presented their skit to a panel of judges including Harris and three members of the mascot team -- and YoUDee.

The winning group included Kelly Kimpton, Marykate Mulhern and James Ryan Egnor-Keil, Ally Blyskal, Jamie Luck, Ryan Banker and Jackie Licari.

As YoUDee prepares for the national championships, it is also involved in the Capital One Mascot Challenge and Blue Hens around the world are encouraged to vote online.

Article by Sarah E. Meadows

Photos by Evan Krape

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