Mascot Friends Unite Against The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Published June 3, 2020
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The Montclarion
Rocky the Red Hawk and many of his mascot friends are finding new ways to bring joy to people during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo courtesy of Daniel Waffenfeld

When Montclair State University closed its campus, Daniel Waffenfeld and Paul McGroarty knew they needed to find a way to reach out to the community. Their intention was to put a smile on people’s faces, even if it was only temporary.

Waffenfeld, a graduate student concentrating in higher education and student affairs, is Team Rocky’s graduate student coordinator. McGroarty, a graduating film major with a theater studies minor, has been a member of Team Rocky since 2017.

“I had this idea and I reached out to all the mascots,” Waffenfeld said. “I knew from the editing standpoint and a creativity standpoint to make this realistic, I needed [McGroarty] because [McGroarty] is excellent.”

Daniel Waffenfeld poses with Rocky the Red Hawk for a photo. Photo courtesy of Daniel Waffenfeld.

Daniel Waffenfeld is Team Rocky’s graduate student coordinator.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Waffenfeld

The “Mascot Friends Unite Against COVID-19” video has over 10,000 views on YouTube. Team Rocky, McGroarty and Waffenfeld created the one minute video, featuring 20 different university mascots along with the hashtag “Alone Together.”

“I think we wanted to reach out to these other schools to create a sense of community, which is what everyone’s promoting, which is amazing,” McGroarty said. “It’s that sense of community, which is going to keep us all sane. It’s going to keep us together instead of divided.”

Waffenfeld was ecstatic about the collaboration between universities of all sizes from all over the country. Division one schools such as Clemson University are featured alongside community colleges like Phoenix College.

Rocky the Red Hawk sits on the couch as he comes up with the idea to Zoom with his friends. Photo courtesy of Red Hawk Life | YouTube

Rocky the Red Hawk sits on the couch as he comes up with the idea to Zoom with his friends.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Waffenfeld

“I wanted to promote our mascot across the country,” Waffenfeld said. “I’ve always wanted to collaborate with other college mascot teams. We don’t normally get to work with all of these universities and colleges across the country.”

The challenging parts of creating the video were making sure the respective students could safely access their mascot costumes, using their limited time on Zoom effectively and communicating across multiple time zones. Waffenfeld and the members of Team Rocky spent 2 1/2 weeks calling, emailing and video chatting with over a dozen different universities across the country.

“The fact that we all kind of put that aside for one common goal, saying a positive message, helping those around the country,” Waffenfeld said. “Like Paul said, [we’re] putting a smile on people’s face, even though it’s only a minute video.”

Waffenfeld and McGroarty utilized Zoom as a means of reflecting the current circumstances for the Montclair State community. Rocky the Red Hawk is often a model for positivity, the student body and campus life.

“Rocky the Red Hawk is a well-known mascot on campus and we’ve been trying to put him more off-campus and more with the college community,” Waffenfeld said. “I think it was a fun project and I love working with [McGroarty] and the mascot team.”

Paul McGroarty, a member of Team Rocky, has worked hard to make Rocky known to campuses across the country. Photo courtesy of Paul McGroarty.

Paul McGroarty, a member of Team Rocky since 2017, has worked hard to make Rocky known to campuses across the country.
Photo courtesy of Paul McGroarty

Team Rocky planned their vision for the video ahead of time, featuring the mascots waving hello and all making hearts shapes with their hands and a sports “wave.”

“[Waffenfeld] really wanted to do a heart, [saying] ‘Love you guys,’” McGroarty said. “And then I talked about possibly doing a college wave, the sports wave.”

McGroarty and Waffenfeld believe part of Team Rocky’s job is to spread positivity.

“It’s actually insane how awesome people are and it shows there are really great things happening in the world,” McGroarty said. “To be able to contribute to that, it’s really awesome. And if you have the power and ability to, why not?”

Click here to watch Team Rocky’s “Mascot Friends Unite Against COVID-19”
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2YqsY1U5dc

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