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Minnesota's Pep Squad

Minnesota's Pep Squad
Photo by Steve Lucas Photography

 

Heidi, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader

Where were you born and raised? Coon Rapids, Minn.

Where do you currently live?
Coon Rapids, Minn.

How long have you been a cheerleader? I remember the day that I wanted to become a cheerleader. I was 10 years old and had just taken my first dance class. I turned to my mom and said “Mom, I am going to grow up and be a Vikings Cheerleader!” To my mother’s surprise I made the team and have had the honor for the past four years.
 
What is your practice schedule like? We practice three days a week for a total of 13 hours. Each season we learn approximately 30 routines. In addition to our practices we are required to maintain a workout schedule and do community appearances on the side. Let’s just say that I live and breathe with my planner by my side.  

What is your favorite part about being a cheerleader?
My favorite part about being a Minnesota Vikings cheerleader is having the opportunity to become involved in the community. We are able to attend many charity events and get to know people from all over Minnesota and other parts of the country.

What’s your favorite song to cheer/dance to?
My favorite song to dance to on game day has to be “Skol, Vikings” [the team’s fight song]. It is the one song that every true Vikings fan knows and sings.

What do you think the Vikings cheerleaders bring to the team and to the state as a whole?
The Vikings Cheerleaders bring hope and knowledge to the team and the state of Minnesota. Even when our team is down and not doing well we find a way to get our fans back up on their feet cheering for the team. Overall, we are not only Vikings staff, but we are ambassadors for them. We represent our great state and team at more than 300 events throughout the year. We are not only true Vikings fans, but also fans of the great state of Minnesota!

What are some of your favorite things about the Twin Cities? One of my favorite parts of the Twin Cities is downtown Minneapolis. We have upscale restaurants such as the Melting Pot and Murray’s Steakhouse, and for entertainment you don’t have to stray far from First Avenue.


Goldy

Photo courtesy of University of
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics

Goldy Gopher, mascot for the University of Minnesota

Age: Some would say I was born in 1851 when the University of Minnesota was founded. Others might suggest 1882 when the football team began play. Regardless, I don’t look a day over 22.

Where were you born and raised? My family moved around a lot, so I’ve been to all areas of the state. There’s a reason Minnesota is called the Gopher State, don’t ya know.

Where do you currently live? I currently have homes in Dinkytown, Stadium Village and Seven Corners [U of M neighborhoods]. I also occasionally rent on the St. Paul campus and near the Metrodome.

How long have you been the mascot for the U?
I’m in my 124th year as the mascot for the U of M football team, my 110th year with the men’s basketball team and my 86th year with the men’s hockey team. Yeah, I’ve been doing this for a while, but really, what other job am I qualified for?

What is your favorite part about being the U’s mascot? Head spinning, crowd surfing, kid hugging, scooter riding, the roar of Mariucci Arena when I skate onto the ice, the feeling I get when the basketball team takes the raised floor at Williams Arena and the Rouser at the Metrodome.

What is one of your most interesting experiences as the mascot?
I’m a kid magnet. I can’t go anywhere without some little rug rat pulling my tail, grabbing me for a hug or begging for an autograph. Maybe it’s my soft fur, my ear-to-ear smile or my dashing good looks, but I am apparently irresistible to the little kiddies.

Who is your ultimate mascot rival? Wisconsin? The Big Ten is chock full of hated rivals, from that bird in Iowa to that nut in Ohio, but there is no one I enjoy sinking my buckteeth into more than Bucky Badger. Oh, and NEVER use the “W word” around me again.

You’re sort of a jack-of-all-trades. What is your favorite sport to participate in? I’d have to say head spinning. It’s a little-known sport that I originated a number of years ago. But if I had to pick a more common sport, I’ll go with badger hunting.

What do you think about professional sports teams in Minnesota? Do you have a favorite big-league team or player? There are sports teams other than the Golden Gophers? Huh. Never heard of ‘em.

What are your favorite things about living in the Twin Cities? I’m all about the Twin Cities golf courses. You know that gopher from “Caddyshack”? He’s got nothing on me. Other than golf, I’ve been known to kayak the Chain of Lakes, ride the rollercoaster at the Mall of America, take in a concert at the Xcel Energy Center or just dig holes in one of the Twin Cities’ parks.


Molly Watters, drum major for the University of Minnesota marching band

Where were you born and raised?  I was born in St. Paul, but have lived most of my life in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Where do you currently live? Dinkytown, Minn.

What are your responsibilities as drum major?  I lead the band on the field, doing the traditional Big Ten Drum Major routine. I also help run rehearsals by teaching new members our marching fundamentals and conduct the band in the stands.

How large is the marching band? The marching band comprises 302 people this year.

What is your practice schedule like? We start the season with Spat Camp, which is a two-week, intensive camp where new members learn our marching style and we learn our pregame and post-game routines. Once school starts we practice for two hours every day.

How many songs do you prepare for each season? We play eight songs in our pregame show, then three new songs for each home game. About 26 each season.

What is your favorite part about being in the U of M marching band? The best part of the band is the people. There are so many unique, talented people in band all working for the same goals. Plus, they’re all pretty fun to hang out with.

Why do you think it’s important for the marching band to have a presence at sporting events? It really adds to the collegiate atmosphere. Especially in a place like Minneapolis where we have so many professional sporting teams, the Gopher games have a completely different atmosphere, and the band really adds to that.

What are your favorite things about the Twin Cities? Some of my favorite things in the Twin Cities are Jucy Lucy’s at Matt’s Bar on Cedar Ave., Erbert and Gerbert’s Subs & Clubs, boating on the lakes in the summer and Gopher hockey games at Mariucci Arena.


Dave Sherman NBAE Photos

Cori, member of the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team

When and how did you join the team? Summer of 2005. I heard about Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team tryouts through a radio spot the day of auditions. I took about four hours preparing for the auditions and completing all the necessary requirements to make the team. It was a last-minute decision but one of the best decisions I have ever made.
 
What’s your favorite part about being on the team? I really enjoy the performances at home games. The energy from the crowd is an amazing feeling when dancing at center court. I also enjoy getting to know the season ticket holders and other Timberwolves fans throughout the season.

What is your most memorable experience with the Timberwolves? Home opener, my first season; I had never experienced anything like it. Performing in front of so many people, who have so much energy for their home team is something I will never forget.

How many hours do you practice? Our scheduled practices are for three hours twice a week. I also get together with my other teammates, as well as practice on my own every day.

When you’re not on the court, what do you like to do?
I enjoy teaching young girls dance. I have coached several dance teams, as well as taught at several dance camps.

What’s the best thing about Minnesota sports? The best thing about Minnesota sports has got to be the fans! I have gotten to know some die-hard Timberwolves fans over the past year. Their dedication to the team is amazing!


Joseph “Ragnar” Juranitch, mascot for the Minnesota Vikings

Where were you born and raised? Milwaukee

Where do you currently live? Minneapolis

How did you become the mascot for the Vikings?
I hold the world record for shaving my face with an ax. One year I was growing out a bigger beard and my wife came home and said the Vikings were looking for a mascot. She sent in an application and next thing you know, out of 3,000 applicants, I got picked with 16 others. I went and tried out during the draft and they had a voting process. I recruited a lot of kids at the school I worked at and they came out and supported me. I won it hands-down.

Why do you think you make a good mascot? I think I’m blessed. I’ve established character and integrity with the team. I’m very careful about what I do and what I say to fans. I think that comes with experience.

Where did the name Ragnar come from? When I was trying to come up with a name, I rented a movie called The Vikings [1958] with a fun-loving, rebellious character named Ragnar [played by Ernest Borgnine].

What’s your favorite part about being the Vikings’ mascot?
The people. There are so many different professions and so much knowledge in that Metrodome. With fans, everybody has a cool story, and everybody is different.

What’s your most memorable experience as mascot? It was the end of the game and we had played the Green Bay Packers. I was standing out in the middle of the field, and [Green Bay] Coach Mike Sherman walked by me and said under his breath, “You’ve got to have the coolest job in the world.”

Do you get recognized outside of Vikings games?
Everywhere I go. It’s part of the job. All these fans want is a little recognition back, a minute of your time. What’s a couple of sentences or a minute of my time to make a fan feel more in touch with the game?

Do you come up with all your on-field shenanigans? Yes. In the beginning, they asked for anything I could think of to get the fans involved. I suggested bringing out the team while I was on a motorcycle. It had never been done before and it was a smash hit.

How do you think our team will do this year? I’m really encouraged at the direction the organization is going. If I were to encourage the fans about anything this year, I’d say have fun with the team this year. I’d be very surprised if we don’t make the playoffs.


Dave Sherman NBAE Photos

Crunch, mascot for the Minnesota Timberwolves

Where were you born and raised? I was born in my parent’s den in the northernmost forests of Minnesota.

Where do you currently live? Now I live in my own den, way down deep in the bellows of the Target Center.

When and how did you get your job? I got the job the inaugural season for the Timberwolves back in 1989. I think it was my “skillz” during the interview.

When you’re not on the court, what do you do? I try to spend my time at appearances throughout Minnesota being a role model to Minnesota’s youth.

What’s your favorite part of the job? There is a tie here between two things: First, seeing the look on a child’s face from a dunk, hug, or even an autograph is truly something that brings a smile to my face every time. Second, there is nothing like being at center court when the opposing team has to call a timeout because the Wolves just went on an 8-0 run to take the lead in the fourth quarter. It gets so LOUD!

What is one of your most interesting experiences as the mascot? A few years back, our dance team and I visited the troops at Fort Hood in Texas, right before they were about to be deployed overseas. The feeling of the smiles we put on their faces is something that I will never forget.

Other than basketball, what sports do you enjoy? Hockey, because of the cold temperature!

Do you practice or train? Yes, I train for the physical parts of being a mascot. You don’t want to dunk through a hoop of fire without a little practice!

What is your favorite thing to do after a game? Call up my buddy T.C. Bear from the Minnesota Twins and see if either of us made [ESPN’s] SportsCenter.

What’s the best thing about Minnesota sports? Without question, the best thing about Minnesota sports is the fans!

What is your most memorable experience with the Timberwolves? My most memorable experience was the Western Conference Finals a few years back.


Palmer Harbison, zamborgan player for the Minnesota Wild

Where were you born and raised? Born in Duluth, Minn., raised in the Twin Cities

Where do you currently live? Brooklyn Park, Minn.

How many years have you played the organ? I have been a keyboard player in the Twin Cities area for the past 25 years.

When and how did you get your job? I was with the band that played for the first few seasons and I doubled as the organist. They no longer use the band.

What’s your favorite part of the job? Seeing all the games!

What is the most challenging?
Timing the right cheer at the right time and getting the fans to participate.

What is your most memorable experience as zamborganist? The Stanley Cup playoffs

Do you practice? I play with different bands during the off season and I practice at home quite often.

Do you have any game-day rituals?
The only ritual I can think of is trying to get to the stadium through the I-94 corridor during a snow storm.

What is your favorite thing to do after a game? Visit with the staff about the game.

What’s the best thing about Minnesota sports? Right now it’s the Twins winning season. I think the Wild will be great this year.

What are some of your favorite things about the Twin Cities? Good, affordable standard of living. Good community. Good schools.


Photo courtesy of the
Minnesota Twins

T.C. Bear, mascot for the Minnesota Twins

Where were you born and raised? Bear River, Minn.

Where do you currently live? White Bear Lake, Minn.

What did you do before you were a mascot? I was a fishing guide in northern Minnesota.

What’s your favorite part of the job? Putting a smile on people’s faces

What is one of your most interesting experiences as the mascot? When I had a home run hitting contest against the rock star Meatloaf.

Other than baseball, what sports do you enjoy? Fishing

Do you have any game-day rituals? I must bump fists with manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson.

Who is your ultimate mascot rival? Bernie Brewer [of the Milwaukee Brewers]

What is your most memorable experience with the Twins? The day I saw myself as a bobblehead! You know you’ve made it big when they turn you into a bobblehead.  

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