Timeout is called. Players walk towards their bench. All action appears to have stopped. The energy evaporates from the building. A raucous, up-and-down game nearly comes to a screeching halt, but gets heroically saved by “DIBS,” a blue furry creature in a DePaul jersey running along the sidelines. The Demon in a blue suit swings his arms up and down as he passes the DePaul fan sections, with only one goal in mind: to bring the energy back.
The timeout ends. DIBS makes his way back to his den but still tries to egg-on the audience to keep everyone entertained. Once DIBS is away from the crowd, DIBS looks around to make sure that no one is around before unmasking for a drink of water and wiping away the sweat with a towel.
“The heat, I get super sweaty,” DIBS said . “Not just on the hot days outside, but no matter what I do, I am always sweating in that suit. Gallons of water are always waiting for me in the resting room. The suit itself is no heavier than 5-pounds but the ventilation of the suit is just horrible for DIBS’ extraneous physical activity.”
DIBS isn’t a single person but a collective of students, who have chosen to remain anonymous for this article. All of them share the same mission but they all have their own method to complete their mission. The person playing DIBS decides what kind of personality they want to create. They could be pulling gymnastic moves or flipping up and down to create excitement. They could also be just dancing and messing around with the audience to make everyone feel included.
“We usually have two to four students per year that suit up. We have had over 30 since I started supervising in 2002,” Karen Loiacono, director of Marketing and Licensing of the Athletic Department, said. “One of our mascots even went pro. He is now the mascot for Detroit Pistons (Hooper) ”
People look for the mascot to lead cheers. DIBS is more noticeable than the cheerleaders at a sporting event because he is a big blue figure. However, it is the collection of the cheerleaders, the dancers and DIBS who make up the spirit squad. If one of them is missing, the team morale goes down. DIBS isn’t allowed to talk. If it weren’t for the cheerleaders, DIBS would lose his voice.
“It’s a different atmosphere. If you think about it, if he wasn’t there, it would be bland. We would just be watching the game. DIBS is putting on a show. It’s like entertainment with basketball in the background,” freshman Andy Duric said.
Not everyone can be DIBS. There are auditions and certain characteristics that the Athletic Department looks for in their candidates.
“You have to be good at communicating without speaking. You have to have a lot of expressiveness with your body movement. You have to have a bit of comedy. You have to be in pretty good physical shape and you can’t be claustrophobic,” Loiacono said. “Because of the mask.”
Demon In a Blue Suit originated in 1900, when the monogram “D” was selected for DePaul athletics’ uniform. People started to nickname the DePaul athletes the “D-Men.” The nickname eventually evolved into “Demon,” and then mixed with the school color, blue, the Blue Demon was born.
DIBS isn’t an extra piece of the game, but rather something that completes the game. Lucas Lafuente, a freshman, feels that having a mascot is an essential part of experiencing collegiate sports. While many state schools have their football and basketball teams to provide school spirit, DePaul incorporates their mascot in basketball, which Lafuente thinks is a really good idea.
During the Big East women’s basketball tournament, there was a mascot dance competition and DIBS won it by combining moves across different dance styles.
“I did a ‘six steps’ and ended in a baby freeze (breakdance moves),” DIBS said. “I really wanted to win that for DePaul, to show the school spirit.”
“I get to portray a lot of my personalities without getting the judgments from others,” DIBS said. “It’s basically like singing in the showers or dancing in the bedroom by yourself. The people don’t know who I am; they just see DIBS.”
To be DIBS, the person has the opportunity to do something that they don’t do in their regular day to day routine, like giving high fives to everyone in the student center or tapping on a stranger’s shoulder and running away.
College is a place for students to be open to new experiences. Being a mascot is certainly a unique job that few would think of when looking for a career. However, it is a role that students will consider important when school spirit and sports events are talked about.
“Even when my energy is low or I am just not feeling the greatest, but when I put on the mask, it puts me in the zone and energizes me,” DIBS said. “It has been a great experience and I will most likely do it for all four years here.”