The Man Behind the Mask

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By Amelia Arvesen

Cooper Jensen pulls off another year as Cal's winsome mascot. Photo by Mauricio Vargas.

For students who have ever received a bear hug at a Cal High football game, there’s a good chance  it was from Cooper Jensen.

Junior Cooper Jensen has been the Grizzly mascot since his freshman year. Since then, bear hugs have taken on a whole new meaning.

During Cooper’s freshman year, the mascot position rotated from person to person but seemed to stick with Cooper because he liked it the most, was the best at it, and earned the crowd’s respect.

Sherry Jensen, Cooper’s mother, admits that she was afraid the first time she saw him in the Grizzly costume because she was worried he didn’t know what he was doing.

But after three years she is confident in him.

“I’m filled with pride and I secretly know who the mascot is,” she said.

Cooper officially took over the title of Mr. Grizzly during his freshman year at the request of junior Bryan Williamson.

It was meant to be. Cooper was so thrilled to be the Grizzly that he hugged everyone who approached him, whether he knew them or not, and even attempted a few flips to entertain the crowd.

Leadership adviser Eileen Mantz remembers that after Cooper’s first night as the mascot, parents in the stadium told her how great he was at the job.

“When the kids come and see the grizzly bear and take pictures with it and give hugs, it gives them a sense of wanting to be a Grizzly some day,” said Mantz.

Cooper attends rallies, football games and some basketball games as the mascot.

His dream is to practice with the cheerleaders and perform in a mascot segment at their competitions.

He also looks forward to having the opportunity to be his college’s mascot one day.

Every time Cooper suits up, he  has a choice of three Grizzly costumes. One is from 1983 and it’s missing its left hand, right foot, and lots of fur.

“It’s basically decomposing,” said Cooper.

The other Grizzly costume looks like a squirrel, Cooper said, so he prefers to use the newest costume or the “big daddy bear” as he calls it.

The costume of his choice is fully covered in fur, not missing any body parts, and has pearly white teeth.

“I like how it’s furry and cute,” said freshman Kyle Martin.

Because Cooper is so busy as the mascot at school events, his friends get lonely. Senior Max Kellogg, Cooper’s close friend, said Cooper is the best person for the job because he is outgoing, loud, and funny.

“He looks like an animal out there,” said Max.

Although freshman Nick Allman wishes the school mascot was a dinosaur, he agrees that the Grizzly adds even more entertainment to the football games.

Mrs. Jensen said she can tell when the person in the Grizzly costume isn’t Cooper.

“They’re not as energetic,” she said. “They just walk around with their arms flopping. Cooper’s always hugging a child or a cheerleader.”

Being the mascot isn’t the only thing Cooper needs energy for.

Cooper is on the junior varsity football team as a defensive tackle and right guard.

Between his football game and the varsity football game, Cooper prepares to be the school’s mascot by pumping himself up and putting out some “clean dance moves”.

“I’m so full of energy that I can go through three hours of my own game and then three more hours in the bear suit,” said Cooper

Cooper said by the end of each game, his shirt over the bear is drenched with sweat.

“Every time afterwards there’s a mandatory shower,” he said.

As the mascot, Cooper also attends rallies. During the winter sports rally last year, one of the competitions was to throw snowballs at the mascot.

Somebody threw a snowball that hit the Grizzly directly in the mouth.

The Grizzly suffered no harm, except maybe a brain-freeze, but inside, Cooper endured a painful amount of snow in his eye.

Despite being sweaty, hit with snowballs, and hugged by random people, Cooper still looks forward to being the school’s icon.

“I feel like I’m representing the whole school in a good way,” said Cooper.