Winner - College Mascot Greatest Community Impact
A program within the organization’s community that is spearheaded by the team or school’s mascot which directly benefits the community. The program can be any type of effort which helps with specific needs within the community; Educational, fighting hunger, public safety, etc.
University of Tennessee
Smokey attends hundreds of community service events and appearances each year. However, over the past year Smokey has been giving extra attention to bringing smiles and joy to some of his friends and biggest fans in nursing homes across East Tennessee. Whether it is simply visiting each room in a nursing home to say hello or it is attending a party hosted by the nursing home staff, Smokey has visited hundreds of residents in numerous facilities across East Tennessee. This unique initiative takes Smokey to those who otherwise would not be able to see him in-person or have a personal connection with the University of Tennessee, and it has led to Smokey hearing many comments like, "I haven't seen you in years!" or "I used to love watching you when I came to games. It is so good to see you!" Nursing home staff has also given feedback, including Smokey's favorite quote from a visit this summer when an administrator said, "You have no idea what this means to us. We've seen residents smile today that we haven't seen smile in a long, long time."
Winner - College Best In-Game Routine or Skit
An in-game routine or skit that the mascot performs during the sporting event for the team or school.
It could be a single routine/skit or a series of the same routine/skit that is performed all season long.
Auburn University - NCAA - SEC
Every Auburn Football game day, Aubie provides entertainment for thousands of fans with his in-game skits. He is constantly coming up with fresh ideas to engage and captivate the audience. With his goofy antics, hilarious costumes, and “Aubie-sized” props, Aubie often draws more attention than the game itself. He has even been known to win over the hearts of the opposing team’s fans. Aubie strives to provide fans with an elevated game day experience. This year, against San Jose State (the home of Silicon Valley), Aubie decided to explore the Metaverse and find out what the world of Virtual Reality has to offer.
Aubie, Auburn University's tiger mascot, is in his 44th season as a spirit leader and goodwill ambassador for Auburn University. A popular character among Auburn fans and one of the most animated mascots in the country, Aubie is the living spirit of Auburn.
Winner - College Best Video Short
A produced video featuring the mascot. This video could be used online, on social, or at a live event. Videos should be judged on originality, creativity, and entertainment value. Does not have to be sport related.
University of Tennessee - NCAA
Smokey has seen an incredible increase of social media presence over the past year, and has embraced this as an opportunity to have daily connection with his fans. Just one month ago, Smokey started a TikTok account to further this connection with his fans. In just 30 days, Smokey has amassed nearly 40,000 followers and millions of video views. This specific video short deserves a nomination because it shows the mischievous and funny personality of Smokey's character, while telling a creative story that resonated with all of Smokey's fans. What sets this video apart is that this story is told clearly without any words or lyrics, relying solely on Smokey's performance. This video was released the week of the Tennessee vs. Florida football game, a huge rivalry for Tennessee fans, and shows a gator (Florida's mascot) that has snuck onto the field of iconic Neyland stadium. Smokey sneaks up behind the gator and ultimately "gator wrestles" this nemesis and removes the gator from the stadium, reclaiming his home turf. This proved to be foreshadowing of the game that would come a few days later!
The video has garnered more than 350,000 views on social media, most of them on TikTok, from Smokey's fans around the world! This nomination will help even more fans, specifically mascot fans, to see the hard work and creativity that Smokey is bringing day in and day out!
Winner - College Live Animal Program
Specific to live animal mascot programs at the collegiate levels, including all NCAA Divisions and NAIA programs. The program that best embodies its university or school and positively enhances the institutions mission.
University of Tennessee - NCAA - SEC
Smokey X, the live Bluetick Coonhound seen on the sidelines of every Volunteers football game, is the iconic live mascot for the University of Tennessee. During halftime of the Tennessee vs. Mississippi State football game in 1953, the UT pep club hosted a competition to choose the University's mascot. When "Blue Smokey," a locally owned and award-winning bluetick, was introduced, the hound howled and the student section erupted. The more the students cheered, the more the hound howled, and the rest was history. The University of Tennessee had its mascot. Ever since then, Smokey has been the team leader, being the first to run through the famous T that opens for the football team to enter the field before every game on Saturdays in the fall.
Since then, another tradition was born. The agriculture fraternity Alpha Ghamma Rho became the caretakers and handlers for Smokey. Members of the fraternity apply to be handlers for the live mascot and 2-3 are chosen each year. While Smokey lives with a family in Knoxville, descendants of the original owner, he stays in the fraternity house being treated like a king on game weekends and when Smokey is needed for an appearance on campus or in the community.
Smokey's synonymous status with campus life was forever engrained in 2019 when ten statues were unveiled across campus, one for each of the ten bluetick coonhounds that have served over the past almost 70 years. This football season is Smokey X's last season as he completes his tenure, the longest in history, and before he passes the baton to his son, Smokey XI. Smokey XI is in training and will take to the sidelines in 2023!
Winner- Best College Live Human Program
Specific to live human mascot programs at the collegiate levels, including all NCAA Divisions and NAIA programs. The program that best embodies its university or school and positively enhances the institutions mission.
West Virginia University - NCAA - Big 12 Conference
The Mountaineer is the most beloved of all West Virginia University traditions and symbolizes the proud and rich heritage of the Mountain State and its people. In keeping with the mission of West Virginia University as a land-grant institution, our Mountaineer commits to creating a diverse and inclusive culture that advances education, healthcare and prosperity by visiting and engaging with children in schools across rural West Virginia that historically have never been to a WVU sporting event or have never seen our flagship university mascot.
Wearing the heavy custom buckskins and real coonskin cap, the Mountaineer carries not just the weight of the uniform, but the weight of West Virginia on his/her shoulders. The Mountaineer attends NCAA football, basketball, and baseball games, as well as gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and wrestling matches, cheering on the Mountaineers in all venues. He/she also makes appearances at other sporting events, including WVU Club Sports. Today, the Mountaineer attends more than 350-400 events per year outside the realm of athletic functions, appearing at schools, hospitals, civic organizations and more.
What makes the Mountaineer Mascot unique compared to others is the fact that every year a new individual will serve in the position. For other mascots, an individual changes his/her personality to portray that of the character. The Mountaineer Mascot position, however, allows any individual to let their unique personality shine as they carry on the responsibilities. For other schools, the person becomes the mascot; at WVU, the mascot becomes the person. This allows the Mountaineer to be well known throughout the fanbase, even after their term is over and they become a functioning member of society.
A constant objective of West Virginia University is to increase the pride of West Virginians in themselves and in our Mountain State. We are constantly reminded of the strength and courage of the people in our state and our Mountaineer Mascot position has preserved this tradition for future generations.
The City of Whiting is located on the south shore of Lake Michigan, with scenic lakefront views of downtown Chicago. Midway Airport, the South Side of Chicago, and Downtown Chicago are all located within a 30-minute drive of Whiting. For more information about the City of Whiting, please visit WhitingIndiana.com.