Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Paul Fineman

Paul Fineman, a former member of Wheaton’s varsity tennis team, recently played a different role in the sports arena. He was the Wheaton mascot (the Lyon) for the faculty/staff basketball game—a student fundraiser.

Funny business: I have always loved making people laugh and seeing a crowd get into a game. Nothing bothers me more than going to a sporting event and seeing people not interested. I am a big SNL fan. Someone said if you really want to make people laugh, you shouldn’t worry about your appearance. I really believe in that. The Lyon opportunity really gave me the chance to be me and show school spirit at the same time.

Lyon tamer: Inside the costume it was very hot. It wasn’t the most comfortable time of my life, but I got used to it. I am trying to lose a little weight and I probably lost 10 pounds during that game. I have no complaints. I think the biggest challenge I faced as the Lyon was being shy. I remember the first 10 minutes of the game I was shy and didn’t want to act too foolish, but then I realized I was a mascot. Acting foolish and making people laugh is what mascots do.  Once you get out of your comfort zone it is a lot easier.

No cat naps: The biggest do to being a Lyon is interacting with the kids. Some look up to you like you are a celebrity, so taking pictures with them and giving them high fives and “bunny ears” are things that can make their day. The biggest don’t is don’t just sit there. A lot of mascots feel that dressing up is enough; it’s not. No one can see your face, so what are you embarrassed about? Be active.

Encore: I would absolutely do it again!