Walking tall with a giant smile, unkempt hair and cartoonish school spirit, environmental sciences senior Keegan Aspelund could be mistaken for Cal Poly’s own Musty the Mustang.
In fact, the two are one and the same, and have been since 2010. With graduation in his near future, Aspelund is looking for the next student(s) to don the Musty suit. I had the chance to speak with him about the experience at a women’s soccer game, before he provided the halftime entertainment:
What do you, in costume, normally do at a sporting event like this?
KA: As Musty, you don’t really follow the game as much as you would as a fan. If you get bored of the game, you find your own entertainment. You find kids, you take pictures, you walk through the bleachers. The people will entertain you.
So the mascot doesn’t have to be a sports fanatic?
KA: You don’t have to be a fanatic at all, as long as you know the basic rules and you can react to the game. You need to know, for example, a touchdown is worth six points and a home run is worth celebrating.
Just make a fool of your character. If you’re not the greatest dancer when the music comes on, you just try to look dumb and goofy. If you look dumb and goofy, then people will laugh at you, and that’s completely OK. Mascots aren’t serious.
How often do do you deal with reckless fans?
KA: I usually don’t have to deal with people being ruthless or violent in any way unless they’re kids. Kids are the worst; they all want to get your tai l— or, ‘the tail.’ I‘ve had 14-year-olds and younger decide they want to beat Musty up, taken a couple uppercuts to the chin and a few to the abs.
What about drunk college kids?
KA: Drunk college kids, yes. I’ve had a couple throw a some punches, but nothing too serious. Some drunk guys are very aggressive in getting a picture (with me), so I end up half-carrying them.
Have you ever been injured at all?
KA: Injury-wise, heat exhaustion and dehydration — I don’t think I’ve ever reached heat stroke. The first couple times, I sweat so much. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to dance for just two minutes straight. But the rule I go by is to take one break, minimum, every half hour.
Vision in the suit is very restricted; you cannot see below your chin at all. Your vision is maybe 90 to 120 degrees in front of you so you have to be constantly scanning. When I first started, I’d bump into little kids and trash cans, but I’ve definitely improved.
Has the experience helped develop your self confidence or willingness to be outrageous outside of the suit?
KA: I’ve always had that. I’ve always been very open and just, free, I guess. I dance like a fool outside of the suit, inside the suit, no matter what. For me it’s been about developing relationships with people I never would have interacted with, like the stunt (and) dance teams or athletic administrators. It’s great to get those connections as Keegan.
There’s a misconception that I know all the athletes now, but I haven’t met too many I didn’t know before. When they do find out they say, “Thanks a lot, you make a big difference and we really appreciate what you’re doing.” Then they find out I’m the only one and they’re shocked. Coaches have said, “You do all that by yourself?” I’m like, “Well, you know, I have help getting in and out of the suit but mostly, I’m the one doing it by myself.”
It’s also a great lead-in. You tell anyone, “I’m the mascot,” and they’re going to want to get to know you at least a little. You don’t get acknowledged too much outside of the suit, but when you do, it feels SO great. That’s one of the best parts.
What could a person get out of the experience of being Musty?
KA: Being able to vicariously receive so much adoration. I don’t get withdrawals, but sometimes I have to catch myself. Like if I see a kid who followed me around and gave me 10 high fives during the game, I almost want to high five him but I realize, ‘I’m not in the suit right now, I can’t do that.’
Another thing is if you’re a guy in the suit, SO many girls want to take pictures with you ,and you can’t talk to them. I’ve had girls say, “What’s your name?” and “Come on, just talk to me,” and yeah, sometimes you really want to but you can’t. Only to referees and people who are working the event.
So there you have it. The man behind the Musty mask.