By: Victoria Martinez
Here at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, General the Jaguar weighing in at 360 paws, with paws the size of 14 inches, and was born and raised in San Antonio.
Probably the most obvious challenge of a mascot would be the condition of wearing the costume especially with hot Texas weather.
“The suit is like any other suit, HOT. With the black fur in the hot air of San Antonio, I make sure that I am well hydrated before any event,” General said, via email.
Spoiler alert. Before you get to know the background and experiences about General, sorry guys I wasn’t able to find out exactly who General the Jaguar is.
The real question is how can General represent A&M-San Antonio without bumping into a wall resulting in going viral on the internet? To answer that, General is taken care of by mascot handler and cyber security junior Italia Schmidt.
“I basically go everywhere the General goes . . . I am the eyes,” Schmidt said.
She mentions about speaking for General and letting people know when to stop. For example, if General needs a break she makes it happen. General and Schmidt have codes to let each other know when it's time for a water break and fresh air.
The Struggle is Real
With any type of job you face the best and worst moments from it. According to Schmidt, the benefits of her job is she attends all of the events on and off campus.
“I am very involved with the school and I get to experience new things that I haven’t done before. I enjoy it!”
This job also involves becoming a leader and telling others what’s acceptable and what's not. Schmidt mentions the worst part of this job is having authority towards others.
“I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I have to be the voice for the mascot.”
There is more than one costume for General and in order to keep those clean they’re taken to the dry cleaners.
“We send the General’s suit off to the groomers to get him the proper spa/ groom for his beautiful fur.”
Adventures during Events
During the year General and Schmidt are actively attending events on and off campus, communities and other schools.
Fiesta time in San Antonio is the busiest time for Schmidt helping General. She mentioned “working every day” during these events. If anyone attends fiesta events, be on the lookout for General along with Schmidt.
During a parade along the San Antonio River, a challenge they encountered is when the driver suddenly accelerated and almost catapulted the mascot into the San Antonio River. Schmidt had to save General.
The first time General wore the costume he was a part of an event for dogs around the community to come out on campus for a walk/run mile with their owners. General was faced with one of his fears: dogs.
Poor General, the dogs probably thought he was a giant chew toy.
Who is the Jaguar?
When asked how Schmidt describes General in her own words she responds with diva and silly.
“It's always fun and an adventure. Definitely I became close with the mascot. I always make sure that they're OK. We became really close.”
Though there are multiple students inside the suit, General’s identity will NEVER be revealed. Just in case something happens with the first person there is always a back up plan.
In high school usually most students know who is inside the costume. Only a few people on campus know and that's because they work with General.
“They want General to be its own person. They don't want someone to think that there's someone in the suit. General is its own person,” Schmidt said.
Sarah Vasquez, Recreation Sports marketing assistant told me about the qualities they look for when it comes down to choosing who will be the mascot representing A&M-San Antonio.
Long term goals, in a few months the university could be looking for a new mascot and more handlers to assistant General.
“When we are looking for someone who wants to be General . . . you have to be really involved with [A&M-San Antonio] in order to be more involved as the mascot. It’s a lot of responsibility, you’re the image for the school,” Vasquez said.
General takes pride in representing the college dedicating his life and personality into the suit.
If you’re interested to apply for the upcoming mascot, contact the Department of Recreation Sports for more information at 210-784-1349. They are located in the Central Academic Building (CAB) Suite 103.