Greatest Community Impact Award Winners
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.
Wally the Green Monster
Boston Red Sox - MLB
“Wally’s Making Books Come Alive” is his official community literacy program, however, Wally visits dozens of locals schools, hospitals, and special community events throughout the year as entertainment and support.
Wally loves to read and the one thing he loves more is sharing that with his friends at schools across New England. He started the program years before COVID, but when the world went digital and remote, that didn’t stop Wally. He started zooming with schools and kept the performances going. Wally’s “Making Books Come Alive” is a special presentation where Wally joins his friend, Big League Brian, for a fun, fast-paced, and interactive reading experience that can be tailored to a classroom or an entire theater or gymnasium for an entire school!
Portland Sea Dogs - MiLB
Every year Slugger and the Portland Sea Dogs team up with Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP) to “Strike Out Cancer in Kids” (SOCK). A kid from MCCP is chosen to act as a representative for all children receiving treatment and is given the title, The Slugger Kid. Over the season, Slugger forms a close bond with the Slugger Kid, and together, they work to raise funds for the SOCK campaign. Since its inception in 1995, Strike Out Cancer in Kids has raised over $5 million. Each season, 4 kids (current and former patients) are recognized as a “Hero at Hadlock” for a game. Shown in the video, they are cheered on by fans as they run the bases and receive high fives by players from both teams.
Slugger also makes many visits to see his friends at MCCP and those receiving treatment at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. A vote for Slugger is also a vote for all his friends at the Maine Children's Cancer Program, as he says, “They are the true heroes.”
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."
Little League International
This Summer, the Little League Baseball World Series celebrated its 75th Anniversary and as part of that celebration, counted down some of the key moments, people, and memories that have transpired over the years. One of those 75 recognitions came with the "Diamond Moment" of the debut of Little League's official mascot, Dugout, who came to life in 1985 and today continues to bring smiles and excitement to fans of all ages at the world's largest youth baseball tournament each summer. From its on-field antics and highly anticipated hugs and high-fives in stands, Dugout is a fan favorite for visitors from all over the world at the Little League Baseball World Series each year.
Fort Mill High School - Fort Mill, SC
Buzz did a promo video to promote Fort Mill High School students to raise money for the Special Olympics of South Carolina at their Polar Plunge event.The day he did the promo video, it was cold, with snow on the ground and windy. Buzz did it with no complaints. Even though his costume was filled with 40 degree water. They had lifeguards on duty in case his suit absorb water too rapidly. Fort Mill High School was one of the top earners in South Carolina for the event.
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.
Atlanta Braves - MLB
Blooper, Bloopy, Big Cats Dad, Mayor of Cincinnati, Philanthropist Bloopy, he goes by many names. He brings smiles and laughter not only at the ballpark but also as a dominating presence on social media platforms. His pre-game shenanigans are 1 in a Million.
He went from one of the most hated mascots of all time at the time of his reveal to one of the most beloved in a span of 3 years.
Portland Sea Dogs - MiLB
Go Go Slugger Ranger
T-Rex is destroying the city!!! A hero is needed… Slugger has answered the call!
Vote for the one true hero, Slugger! Slugger is well known for his in-game skits which include dancing, flips, stunts, and copious amounts of humor.
Aubie the Tiger
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.
Beaver Dam High School - Beaver Dam, WI
Benjamin Beaver has appeared at least once with every one of the high school’s 21 athletic teams. This includes some of the sports where you wouldn’t expect a mascot: golf, track, tennis, swimming, bowling and trap shooting. Benjamin even took on something relatively dangerous - running over hurdles as a routine to entertain the crowd.
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.
Philadelphia Phillies - MLB
The Phanatic Saves the 4th!
This movie was shown at the ballpark before our annual fireworks show and represents an effective collaboration between the Phillies video department and the Phillie Phanatic. We joined together to develop the storyline, scout the locations around the city and schedule the shoot. We hired an outside film crew to shoot the movie and we edited it in-house. The film was a perfect set-up to the on-field light show which led to the launch of the fireworks show. The fans reacted and cheered at all the right moments in the film and when the film faded to black and the Phanatic entered the field to beat the villains and touch home plate with the bat, the crowd went wild.
The movie got wonderful press coverage and was a big hit on social media. After 50 years of post game firework shows, it's a great accomplishment to come up with something fresh and new that made this Fourth of July tradition one to remember!
El Paso Chihuahuas - MiLB
Opening Day Laundry
In this video Chico is washing his jersey and accidentally shrinks it. We used this video on our social media platforms in the last few weeks of the off season this year to engage our fan base and get them excited about our upcoming season.
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!
Beaver Dam High School - Beaver Dam, WI
Benjamin Beaver is featured at the Beaver Dam High School basketball games that draw large crowds in their new Field House. The girl's team were three-time State Champions between 2017-2019. Benjamin leads the team onto the floor with his flag, and thrills the audience with his trick shots during halftime.
Best 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!
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 Confernce
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.
Corporate Best Use of Brand
Specific to corporate mascots where corporations use their mascot to positively enhance their brand to the public.
he GEICO Gecko® loves to tell people how GEICO could help them save on insurance.
Best Independent Program
Specific to mascots not affiliated with a professional sports team, college, high school, or corporation. Mascot program that sets itself apart in all that it does as compared against its peers and other affiliated programs.
Olly the Otter
Olly Otter is the official mascot of Kid's Day of Lexington, a non profit that exists to educate families on issues surrounding health, safety, and environmental awareness with lots of love and laughter!
Olly oversees Kid's Day of Lexington's program; Meaningful Play. Through play, Olly motivates and aids in his Warriors healing! Olly's Warriors are children who are battling cancer or other serious, long-term illnesses. Olly visits them at their homes whenever they need a pick me up. Through short Ollygrams or longer Heal-Through-Play dates, Olly brings much needed laughter and joy to motivate them to keep battling hard and heal their mind, heart, and spirits! Meaningful Play is 2 years old and currently serves 45 families.
This past year we've made an impact on these families in multiple ways. What we hear most from parents is, "we haven't seen our child this active in a long time!" Olly has provided a lot of happiness in these families' darkest times, celebrations at mile stones or bell ringings, and motivation to be a strong Warrior.