More About Bolt
The Chargers’ mascot gets its horsepower from an intrepid OHS sophomore.
Written by Edward Brown Photographed by Joe Worthem
Being the mascot of a large high school can be a difficult and demanding job. But for Pearson Stevens, the sophomore mascot at Oxford High School, the position is simply a fun way to spend his time and make friends. This is Pearson’s second year as the Oxford mascot.
“I first saw (the notice about) a tryout for the mascot on our school website and thought that it would be a fun thing to do,” Pearson said. “Looking back, I’m really glad that I went and tried out. I danced and also did a bit of tumbling. It was difficult, but also fun.”
The Chargers get their name from the medieval war horses commonly referred to as chargers. Until recently, the mascot’s name was Charlie Charger, but this school year it was renamed Bolt by the cheer team and its leaders. Along with the new name, the mascot is wearing a brand new costume that was built to be easier to move in.
Whoever is helming the suit, currently Pearson, gets to practice with the cheer team as well as perform at sporting events and pep rallies. At these events, he has the task of keeping the crowd involved in the games and cheering for the Chargers. Mylene Cromwell is a government teacher at Oxford High School and helps advise the school’s cheer team.
“The mascot’s job is to work alongside the cheerleaders to create school spirit and help involve the crowd at games and pep rallies,” Cromwell said. “He also serves as a representative of Oxford High School to all Oxford School District students and the Oxford community.”
One important job that a school mascot has is to work with the school’s cheer team. Pearson practices with the team before pep rallies and performs at football games, basketball games and other sports events. In addition, the mascot competes with the cheer team at cheer camps. At a Universal Cheerleader Association camp that took place at the University of Mississippi this summer, Stevens won both the Mascot Leadership Award (voted on by other mascots at the camp) and the Mascot Jump-off contest, where contestants are judged on their most inspiring jumps. In addition, he helped the cheer team win awards and titles in several categories against schools from Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana, including first place in Rally, second place in Cheer, and the Leadership Award.
“As the mascot, I’ve gotten to develop some great relationships with the cheerleaders,” Pearson said. “One of my favorite things about the position is that I get to go to lots of football and basketball games.”
Senior Julia Tann has been on the cheer team since her freshman year, and she was on the middle school squad before that. Pearson joined the team as a freshman in Julia’s junior year, a year after there was no mascot at all.
“The mascot job can be really helpful for us because he can help get the crowd going at pep rallies and games,” Julia said. “Pearson did a good job his first year with us and has performed well for us.”
During football season, performing in the heat of late summer is the main challenge Stevens faces as the mascot. The combination of the heat and the large, heavy costume make staying in the suit almost unbearable for long periods of time.
“The biggest struggle for Pearson is the Mississippi heat,” Cromwell said. “The mascot costume is made of a heavy fabric and is extremely hot. To avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion, he can only wear the costume approximately one quarter per half game.”
While the mascot primarily helps with school spirit and cheer, Cromwell feels the position has a much more important task and meaning. She believes that Bolt and Pearson help foster school spirit with every Oxford High School student, not just those who attend and play in the more popular sports.
“It means a lot to him to represent the school and reach kids who may not be involved in school activities,” Cromwell said. “He feels it’s important that all students have a voice and know that they can participate in so many different sports, clubs, theater and ROTC. Our mascot represents all Oxford High School students.”
Some colleges offer partial or even full scholarships for mascots. Pearson, who is considering pursuing it in college, isn’t sure yet where he wants to go but said the University of Mississippi is in the running.
“It’s definitely an option, but I don’t know yet,” Pearson said. “I am looking at other colleges, but I do love Ole Miss.”