Jennifer Hererra (Cougar) poses with Kean University police officer and K9 Credit: Jennifer Hererra
By Angel Ospina | April 29, 2016
You see the Cougar strolling around campus with enthusiasm trying to get the crowd pumped regardless of the event. The Kean Cougar is constantly dancing, waving, jumping and taking pictures with the same smirk upon its face.
When it comes to school spirit at Kean University, the mascot’s upbeat mentality is second to none. All that ebullient behavior would not be possible without the dedication of the brave students who put on the Cougar outfit in sometimes 90-degree weather.
“Most of the people don’t want to get into the suit because the fact that it’s hot,” said Freshman, Jennifer Herrera as she laughed.
Herrera is the Freshman President of Kean’s Student Organization, but volunteers to partake in the events in order to help spread the Kean spirit throughout the school.
“One of the things that attracted me to be the cougar is that you can be yourself, the sweat is just a little bit of what you go through, you have a lot of fun in there honestly, you get to make people laugh and you’d be surprised how many people get excited when they see the cougar.”
During Herrera’s senior year in high school she attended an information session in which the cougar attended and she was able to take a selfie with the mascot. From that
moment she knew she wanted to one day put on the cougar suit on.
“I really wanted to know who’s inside the cougar and was attracted to the fact that there was someone there,” said the enthusiastic freshman.
Herrera was given the opportunity to be the mascot last semester in the pep rally and from there she has attended a number events as the mascot.Herrera’s favorite event was the Flavor Festival hosted by the student government where the cougar stole the show with its dance moves.
“I think the students enjoyed the multi-cultural environment, there was a lot of people out there and the cougar got to dance a lot” she said as she laughed. “I ended up pretty exhausted.”
Kean’s cougar is allowed to dance but isn’t supposed to speak or take off any part of the suit in front of anyone no matter how hot it gets in there.
Although Herrera volunteers for the student government, there are other departments among the university who have their own cougar mascot. Kean’s admissions, athletics department and the Greeks each have their own cougar suit. The athletics department pays its student-employees their hourly rate in order to get them to attend games.
The Kean Cougar’s relentless school spirit has helped students for many years cheer on the student-athletes during their game.
“The cougar is awesome, every time I see it or walk past it I always give it a high five,” said senior, Miguelangel Lopez. “The thing is always so energetic during the game I don’t get how it doesn’t get tired,” he said as he laughed.
Unfortunately, the person inside the cougar does get tired no matter how well they are able portray the energetic spirit at all times.
“After a while you do get tired but you just try to push that aside and try to have fun, that’s the main point of it,”said Hererra cheerfully.