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Stony Brook University students show swagger during Wolfie tryouts

Tryouts for the newest Wolfie, Stony Brook University's

Tryouts for the newest Wolfie, Stony Brook University's mascot, were held Wednesday as three students took turns demonstrating their best Wolfie impersonation. Each contestant was given the chance to come up with a custom routine. One of the Wolfie hopefuls incorporated a football into his routine in hopes of impressing the judges. (Oct. 03, 2012) Credit: Amanda Douville

"What’s a Seawolf?"

For Stony Brook University students, the answer is "I’m a Seawolf!"

And the most famous Seawolf of them all is Wolfie -- the furry, 7-foot tall, gray-and-black mascot that is the face of Stony Brook spirit.

The 17-year-old mascot traveled to Omaha, Neb. over the summer with the baseball team for the College World Series. Wolfie was featured in the 2011 ESPN College Gameday commercial. And he’s marched in the New York City Columbus Day parade.

“Wolfie is not only a mascot, he is immersed into the landscape of the campus,” said Andrea Lebedinski, 26, of Setauket, who is the coordinator of Annual Giving and Branding for athletics. “Everyone knows and loves him.”

But exactly who is inside the costume remains a mystery.

Each semester, students interested in pursuing a paid job as Wolfie are given a chance to attend an information session describing exactly what the job entails. The main condition is that the identity of Wolfie remains confidential. Those who feel fit for the part and the commitment are then asked to come back a week later for tryouts.

Three brave Wolfie hopefuls showed up for this semester’s tryouts Wednesday at the Sports Complex, eager to show their school spirit and best Wolfie impersonation. They took turns climbing into the furry, padded Wolfie costume and reacting to directions given by the six judges present.

“Show us your swagger walk,” said Lebedinski, referring to the charismatic and rhythmic way Wolfie walks around.

“How does Wolfie react when Stony Brook scores?” asked Lebedinski, as contestants jumped around, kicked and made excited hand gestures.

Wolfie hopefuls were also asked to show how they react to children. All contestants got down on one knee and offered a hug, silently of course, since Wolfie doesn’t speak.

“I’m looking for a lot of enthusiasm, passion and high energy, someone that will continue the character and keep it consistent with the different actors,” said Albany native Jared Reed, a SBU junior and marching band president who was one of the judges this evening. “It takes a lot to get into a suit as heavy as that one looks.”

After all three contestants were given a chance to perform their best impression, the judges met to deliberate and planned to select Stony Brook’s newest Wolfie by Wednesday night. However, no one will ever know who was chosen to be the next Wolfie.

“What I like to see in Wolfie is interactions with the students and the fans,” said Scarsdale, N.Y. native Hajime Ichikawa, a Stony Brook University senior and captain of the men’s swimming and diving program who was another one of the judges. “It plays a big part because if Wolfie doesn’t interact, not everyone is going to buy in.”

Wolfie can be found on everything from garbage cans, to school buses, to posters around campus.

“He’s more than just a mascot,” said Lebedinski, “he is the heart of Stony Brook.”

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