Thursday, October 29, 2009

Video of the Week: Sammy's 1995 UCA Competition Tape

That's James Pharaon in the suit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Question of the Week

Did you ever "break character" when you were Sammy?

Fill out this form in triplicate...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Video of The Week: Sammy Bearkat's 1997 New Suit Introduction Skit

Question of the Week

What was the craziest thing you ever did when you were Sammy?

Show your work for full credit...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Question of the Week

Did you ever fear for your life when you were Sammy?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Homecoming Photo Set Posted

I've posted all the photos from my camera onto my flickr account. You can view theme here. Just click on an image to make it larger. Then click on the "All Sizes" link above the photo and select the size you'd like. The just click on the "download" link.

Thanks to Rick Stauffer for taking the photos while we were all down on the field.

Video of the Week: Sammy's 1990 UCA Competition Tape

Thanks to Ryan Rose for sending this:

Sammy Reception Photo

There were six former Sammys at the reception on Friday. The Huntsville Item took the photo that they used before Sherilan and Lana got there.

(R to L) That's Sherilan ('83-'84), Mark ('98-'99), Pat ('00-'06), Trent ('04-'08), Lana ('87-'88) and James '95-'98).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

News: Homecoming Parade

From the Huntsville Item:

Walker County residents lined Sam Houston Avenue Thursday night for the annual Sam Houston State University Homecoming Parade. Fraternities and organizations across campus celebrated the 50th birthday of Sammy the Bearkat with floats that included giant birthday cakes, balloons and noisemakers.The Department of Student Activities will give away free food and prizes to those in school colors today at 10 a.m. in the LSC Mall Area. Other various activities include the “Golden Circle Reunion” in the LSC Ballroom at 11 a.m. and the “50 Years of Sammy” Reception in the LSC Atrium at 1 p.m. The “Distinguished Alumni Gala” will be held in the LSC Ballroom, with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m., hosted by the office of Alumni Relations. The Bearkats will host the Nicholls State Colonels at Bowers Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Matthew Jackson /

News: Happy Birthday, Sammy

From the Huntsville Item:

Happy Birthday, Sammy

The Lowman Student Center Atrium at Sam Houston State University was bustling with excitement on Friday for the Sammy Reception.

Poster-size photos of Sammy the Bearkat lined the atrium, guiding viewers through a historic walk of the famous SHSU mascot, celebrating 50 years this year. In the photographs, those attending could see and celebrate how Sammy has changed throughout the years.

Students stopped by in between classes alumni smiled as they looked at the familiar photos. The real treat of the reception was the presence of current and former individuals who have played the role of Sammy.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” James Pharaon said.

Pharaon embodied Sammy from 1995 through 1998. Beginning as a cheerleader at SHSU, he found his way into a try-out for Sammy, completely transforming his college experience as he won the position.

“I was the one in the dog suit for a year and a half,” he said. “During a football game, it started raining and the suit practically disintegrated while I was wearing it as it was made of a paper mache material. It was then we knew it was time for a change.”

From this experience, Pharaon went on to create the look Bearkats know today.

“The process began in 1996. We went through hundreds of ideas and took it to the head of the school,” he said. “I personally wanted Sammy to have an aggressive look, but we ended with a friendly version. It took several months and then we unveiled the new design on Jan. 30, 1997.”

Pharaon went on to become a graphic designer and production coordinator for Germania Insurance in Brenham.

Mark Barry and Pharaon worked together as graphic designers in student activities, encouraging each other to become more creative and at times, mischievous. Barry stepped into the Sammy suit in 1998 and stayed in the position until 1999.

“It was a blast. It was like I had a VIP pass to get away with anything,” Barry said.

“I’ll never forget the time I went to the National Mascot Championship at Disney Land. I ended up in fifth or sixth place, but the judges told me I could have had first if my performance had just been a little more family-friendly,” Barry remembered.

Coming from California to attend the reception, Patrick Gardenier played the part of Sammy from September of 2000 until April of 2006.

“It was a life-changing experience,” Gardenier said. “I came for school, but stuck around to be involved on campus. When I tried out to be Sammy, my mom didn’t think I could do it without my grades suffering.

“However, becoming involved with the student activities and going to hundreds of events each year, really helped me learn how to prioritize and multi-task. My grades got much better and I made the dean’s list seven or eight times.”

Trent Coots also played the role of Sammy and became good friends with Gardenier. After viewing an ad in the school paper, he tried out to be Sammy. Coots advised current and future mascots to keep up the tradition.

“There’s great history behind the character of Sammy and the school, yet there’s always new ways to present it,” he said. “Be creative and have lots of fun.”

Coots and Gardenier spoke with enthusiasm of their road trips to competitions, seeing snow for the first time and learning to embody a school spirit.

“Most people don’t realize that to be a good mascot, it takes two to three years to connect with the character,” Coots said.

For those attending the reception, it was clear, these men are more than simply mascots, they are good friends who will never forget their experience at SHSU.

“My time at SHSU as Sammy shaped my life,” Coots said. “From there I went on to become the mascot for the Houston Comets. I learned so much from the experience.”

Gardenier works with a minor league baseball team in California and described his time at SHSU as very influential in the course of his career.

“I’ll always be using the skills I learned while I was Sammy,” Gardenier said.

“When I was Sammy, I learned how view events with a creative mindset,” Pharaon said. “Now, in whatever I’m doing, I try to present it in a new way. The experience opened up so many doors for me. I’ll never forget introducing the new suit or proposing to my wife during a halftime performance. “

All of the former Sammy mascots wish the very best to SHSU and desire to encourage others to get involved with the university or community as it is never known what doors may be opened as the result or what skills may be gained by simply putting forth an effort.

Photo caption: Former Bearkat mascots, from left, Patrick Gardenier, Mark Barry, James Pharaon and Brent Coots pose with Sammy the Bearkat during Friday’s Sammy Reception. Sammy celebrates his 50th birthday this year.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Alumni Center Sammy Exhibit

If you come to campus, be sure to stop by the alumni center and check
out the Sammy photo exhibit.

Former Sammys on Parade

That's (L to R) Mark Barry, PatG, Formersammy09, and James Pharaon on
the Sammy Bearkat float.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All my memories of being an SHSU mascot are incredible! Each moment was wildly unpredictable, joy-filled, and so much fun! From push-ups in the end zone to dancing on stage with the Beach Boys in the Astrodome, these are truly my most treasured moments. I LOVED my top hat and tux, the clown suit I made and of course my jersey as Sammy the Bearkat. I drove Sammy farther than we ever thought he could go in a blue and orange golf cart all OVER the campus! The media blitz announcing Sammy's reported "accident" allowed us extra time to get our new uniforms. Sammy and Samantha arrived at that first pep rally in a balloon-filled ambulance to the roar of an awesome Bearkat crowd!
Give 'em hell Bearkats!

SFA Lumberjerks

Reading Formersammy09's post about getting speared by a lumberjack (I'd love to read the full story on that one, BTW) jogged my memory on a couple of SFA Lumberjerk experiences of my own:

1995 - On the SFA campus there's a statue of Stephen F. Austin standing proudly with his hands on his hips. It was my first season as Sammy (as well as the chair of the Program Council Spirit and Traditions committee), and I wanted to do something a little bit ... rebellious. So I found a way for the school to pay for orange Kool-aid, streamers and a big red hooker dress with huge falsies on the front out of my mascot prop budget. We bought every packet of orange Kool-aid that Wal-Mart had. It was somewhere around 200 packets. We opened them all and put the orange powder into a big tupperware bowl.

And under the cover of darkness, several of my friends and members of the Sprit and Traditions committee left Huntsville and drove to Nacogdoches. We got there about 10pm and snuck around the campus avoiding security, trying to find their fountain. We finally found the fountain and began dumping the orange Kool-aid into it. We also emptied a bottle of dish soap into it. Some of us "TPed" the trees with the orange streamers while others climbed the statue and put the red hooker dress on the statue of Stephen F.

By the time we left, there were orange bubbles floating everywhere, streamers hanging and Stephen F. Austin, the proudest hooker ever, standing stoically in the center of the fountain, complete with huge fake boobs. I've got a photo in storage somewhere. If I ever dig it up, I'll post it. If the statute of limitations has expired, that is...

1996 - The game was in Nacogdoches this year. I was on the track headed to the field house for a break when out of nowhere a costumed lumberjack mascot ran up behind me and gave me an elbow to the kidney, then ran away. I was down on the ground rolling around in pain and didn't see a thing. Luckily, I was taping for my nationals tape and got to see the whole thing go down on tape later. That's the day I peed blood.

Later the same game... Sam Houston won (to my recollection, anyway) and the SFA fans were TICKED OFF. I was in the Sammy suit walking back to the bus. Unbeknownst to me, there was a group of about ten Sigma Chis from SFA following me. They were just about to make their move and beat the crap out of me when my cheer sponsor's husband saw what was going on and cut them off. He was a big, muscular dude - a Houston police officer - and happened to be a former Sigma Chi himself. So he was able to stop them so I could board the bus. I didn't even find out what had happened until a few minutes later. That was the day I probably cheated death. Whew!

Formersammy09's Sammy memories

Good to see all these great minds in one blog.
A few memories I have of my tenure as that ol bearkat included:

Unicycleing and having the thing break and end up in an uncomfortable place

Mini-biking and having my styish shirt get sucked in the tire behind me and strangling me off the bike

Getting speared by a LARGE SFA lumberjack after kicking him in the butt

Having a mom ask me if I was a guy then giving me a hug and saying "oh yea you are a guy..."

Watching someone outside of the suit on the four-wheeler run over the Eastern Central Oklahoma's head coah with Airkat on that guy could roll

Counltess hours in the paint room practically breathing spray paint then sneezing black.

Parasailing in Daytona with a few USC girls and Sam paid for it

completing a whole competition video then having my computer crash

Doing a punch front at a mens basketball game and having my head fly off in the middle of the court...I landed it by the way. Surprisingly no video was taken of this.

Sammy's 1998 UCA Competition Video

Unearthed by popular demand...

This is Mark Barry's video, which qualified him to go to National Competition at Disney World. It also features the only known occurrence of using Ronald McDonald as a prop. Hilarious.

You'll get to meet the legendary Mr. Barry this weekend. Look for the guy with the beard.

Shirt Size?


If you're coming this weekend, what's your shirt size?

Either leave your message in the comments section or reply to this e-mail.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homecoming FAQs

SwmMom and I spoke this morning, and she had some questions - some of which I had never even considered. We thought it might help other Sammys, so here they are, along with the answers:

Q: What should I wear?
A: Parade - casual
Reception- business casual will be fine
Football game - whatever you would normally wear to a football game. You will receive a Sammy Bearkat T-shirt, so you can change into that if you'd like.

Q: Will there be food?
A: There is usually tailgating-type food at the Student Activities tent in the tailgating area before the game. There will also be food available at the concession stand at Bowers stadium.

Q: Where do we go?
A: The parade lineup is in the Bowers Stadium parking lot. This is also where the Student Activities tent will be during tailgating before the game on Saturday. The reception on Friday will be in the Lowman Student Center, which is in the center of campus.

Q: Where the heck is Bowers Stadium?
A: (Note: It never occurred to me that many former Sammys performed at Pritchett Field and have never even been to Bowers Stadium) Bowers Stadium is near the library and the coliseum. If you remember how to get to the library or the coliseum, just go there and look across the Intramural fields up the hill. You can't miss the stadium.

Q: Will tickets be available for my family?
A: Yes! Pick up tickets to the game for you and your family free of charge at the Department of Student Activities tent at the tailgate event before the game.

Q: Will we all be sitting together?
A: Yes. All the complimentary tickets will be in the same section.

Q: Where do I park? Does it cost to park?
A: It doesn't cost anything to park. There is parking available in several parking lots near the stadium, although not IN the stadium parking lot. Tailgating will be going on there. Try parking in the intramural field lot, at the library, or in the lot near the criminal justice building and the university hotel. There is also some parking on the street near the stadium.

If you think of any additional questions, be sure to let us know and we'll try to get them answered ASAP!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Official Invitation from SHSU

Received in my inbox this morning:

Dear SHSU Former Mascot,

The 2009 Homecoming theme for Sam Houston State University is "SAMTASTIC: Celebrating 50 Years of Sammy". In celebration for this year's festivities, we would like to invite you (as a former mascot) to attend some of our events.

We encourage you to attend the following events:

Thursday, October 8th
SHSU Homecoming Parade
Sam Houston Avenue
Parade Line-Up 5:30 p.m.
Parade Start 6:30 p.m.
*There will be an official float for previous mascots. If you are interested in riding on this float please contact Brandon Cooper so that he can arrange it.

Friday, October 9th
50 Years of Sammy Reception
Lowman Student Center Atrium
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
*A pictorial reception honoring Sammy. Dress is Bearkat Casual and it is a come and go reception.

Saturday, October 10th
Bearkat Alley
Bowers Stadium Parking Lot
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
*Free food and fun before the football game.

Saturday, October 10th
SHSU vs. Nicholls State
Bowers Stadium
2:00 p.m.
*Free tickets are provided for former mascots. You can receive your ticket before the football game at the Student Activities tent at tailgate.

We are looking forward to seeing all the former mascots. If you have any questions please contact me at 936-294-3465 or


M. Brandon Cooper
The Department of Student Activities
Sam Houston State University
936.294.3652 FAX