Not all the action is on the court or the field during an athletic event.
She stands alone, in front of hundreds of people, with sweat pouring down her face and she can't do anything about it. The music blasts and she starts to dance; she can be herself because no one knows exactly who she is.
It's half-time at a Free State High School game, and Jodi Frederickson is Freddy the Firebird, waving, clapping and dancing to the music. She gives hugs to little kids and high-fives to many of the students.
Frederickson is always moving. The rules dictate it: standard rules of mascot portrayal stipulate no talking, no standing around and no making little motions.
"I'm only out there to entertain the crowd," said Frederickson, a senior at Free State.
Frederickson is an experienced mascot. She was the West Junior High Warhawk in ninth grade, and she's been the Firebird for the past two years. She attended a mascot camp last summer in Oklahoma with the cheerleaders and learned how to appeal to a crowd.
People may think that the task is easy. After all, all you have to do is dance around.
But think again. The 20-pound costume covers every inch of her body and "the only breath of fresh air you get is through the beak," Frederickson said. "You can't be claustrophobic in there."
Being a mascot also sets her up to be picked on. Frederickson said that some high school students think it's cool to hit her beak or kick her tail. And the most she can do about little kids who try to beat her up or pull her tail is shake a finger at them.
Frederickson said being a mascot is very time consuming, but in the end it paid off. She plans to continue as a mascot at Barton County Community College, where she has received a books and tuition scholarship to be Bart the Cougar. After college Frederickson said she would like to try to become the Chicago Bulls mascot.
"If you are going to have a job, why not do something you love?" she said.
Her advice to future mascots is to not be nervous, try to overact all the time, and most of all, have fun. And remember, "You aren't you. You are Freddy the Firebird."
-- Marika Spurgeon is a junior at Free State High School.