Ammo Dump: Professional Mascot and Cheerleader

How I Became a Professional Mascot and Cheerleader

Neal Landfield Buster CHHS

Me in the Buster costume

It’s true. But I started out as an amateur. Back in high school I was a mascot for three years. Our mascot was the black panther, so we had a male and a female panther mascot. Buster and Babs, respectively. After two years, I was approached by the American Cheerleading Association in order to teach other high school and middle school age kids how to be a mascot. I don’t remember what they were, but I had won a few awards from being a mascot and performing mascot skits. My mascot coach was awesome and she directed my name towards this company who ended up hiring me after a short interview.

The Best Summer Job Ever

ACA didn’t want to advertise they hired an employee who was still in high school, so they made up different colleges I was supposed to be attending next year. In actuality, I was about to be a senior. This didn’t stop them from saying I was going to attend Harvard the following year at most camps. Funny, yes. Though I am glad no one ever quizzed me on information regarding Harvard. I don’t think I even knew what state it was in at the time.

American Cheerleading Association graphic

American Cheerleading Association

It was such a blast. I worked most of the summer four days at a time presenting and teaching mascots how to be a mascot. We talked about character development, teamwork, representing your school, and staying in character a bunch. I got to travel all the way to the tropical lands of Mississippi! I was paid around $250/camp and worked probably eight camps the first summer. That was a large chunk of change for me.

At the end of the first year I picked up quite a bit of the cheerleading side of the business in order to make myself more valuable to the company and get to work more camps. The benefit of getting to work with so many talented cheerleaders was they were able to teach me quickly. I even learned to do a backflip! I started doing those during the spirit sticks awards given at the end of each day. It was fun.

Fast Forward a Year

During the next high school year I got involved in a competition cheerleading gym that no longer exists called Club Cheer. A friend of mine was also interested in working for ACA, so he came along and was an even quicker study at the cheerleading stuff than I was. We got to go to the weekly tumbling/coed stunt practice for free. We got to be pretty good at standing tumbling and marginally proficient at the coed stunts. I even participated on one of their competition squads for awhile until it got to the point that it would cost me money to participate. I wasn’t willing to spend money on it.

Soon it was time for my second year at ACA. I think I worked 10 camps that summer. It benefited me that I learned so much of the cheerleading side of it. I think I got to work two camps assigned strictly as a cheerleader with another staffer assigned as the mascot coordinator.

After the First Year of College

I finished the first year of college and had to decide if I was going to take summer school or work for ACA again. I was really unsure as to what I would do. In the long run, I knew there was no long-term future in being a professional cheerleader. So, I decided to work one camp and then say goodbye to the professional cheerleading and mascot days. I worked the first one and felt like I went out on top. I continued to do backflips routinely and they had gotten even better than before.

Looking Back

Around 2004 I stopped doing any sort of running or standing tumbling. I was showing off in front of the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M when I did a backflip. I didn’t do them near as often in those days. Someone who was watching me came up to me and said it looked very low to the ground. It felt the same to me, but since I didn’t have the desire to injure myself, I stopped doing any tumbling on that date.

In 2008, I received a nickname from my history as a cheerleader and mascot when I started my profession. That name was “Spirit Sticks.” A fitting name for my employment history and observed amounts of ebullience.

I hope to enjoyed reading about my history as a professional mascot and cheerleader. As a courtesy to you, I have decided to not post any photos of me wearing short blue shorts. The photos do exist, but they will not be published.

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