Retro Centennial Jay helps celebrate 100 mascot years
Kansas University’s third mascot, Centennial Jay, was introduced during the KU-Missouri basketball game in February. The Jayhawk will spread his wings and join Big Jay and Baby Jay at appearances throughout the coming school year.
C Jay is a replica of the original Jayhawk designed by Henry Maloy in 1912. The Kansas Memorial Unions came up with the idea of C Jay to celebrate 100 years of the Jayhawk.
Creating the new mascot took more than nine months.
KU mascot coach Kamille Ratzlaff sent a mascot-making company a 1912 logo to use as a starting point for the costume, as well as a picture of a mini statue of the original Jayhawk, made a few years ago. After several mock-ups by the company, a sample costume was sent for the mascot team to check its functionality. Final changes were made and the outfit was complete.
But creating C Jay isn’t just creating a new costume; it’s creating a new personality.
Ratzlaff said her team of mascots didn’t only have to adjust to wearing C Jay rather than Big Jay, they had to figure out who he was and what he represents.
“It was easier for us to pick out not who he was, but who he’s not,” Ratzlaff said.
Big Jay behaves goofily and Baby Jay is younger, but C Jay isn’t either of those things. The team had to decide what the new Jayhawk would portray and even how it would walk.
When the team first got the new costume, it spent two hours watching walks and deciding what suited C Jay best.
Ratzlaff said the students’ consistency in their performances of the individual personalities of C Jay, Big Jay and Baby Jay is important because although audiences won’t recognize a different student is in the suit, they will know that a walk or personality is off.
C Jay’s only appearance during a football game will be Oct. 25, during homecoming, and the mascot will retire in April. His appearances won’t be scarce, though. The mascots make roughly 250 appearances aside from football and basketball games, so C Jay will get plenty of time with Jayhawk fans, which is what being a mascot is all about.
“It is awesome to be part of the mascots because you’re literally the face of the university,” Ratzlaff said. “You can just change someone’s day by walking into a room and all they want is a high-five.”