College mascots. They are the stuff of lore. They are the beacons of sunny Saturdays at your favorite stadium. Needless to say when I found out I had met a former Josie Bruin, I had to get her to do a Lost Session here on the blog. Jenn Tranbarger spent one season as the ying to Joe Bruin’s yang at UCLA sporting events. Even as a diehard Trojan, I had to know, what goes into this experience.
As always, Lost Sessions are conducted via AIM and barely edited at all, if at all. We like to keep it strictly 2.0 here. If any of you have follow up questions for Jenn, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to get her to follow up back.
ZJ: The first question is obvious I think. How did you decide to become Josie Bruin?
JT: Well I tried out for dance team and didn’t make it
and then I always thought being mascot would be fun and I think I saw an ad in the daily bruin or something and I tried out
ZJ: How long did you play Josie?
JT: 1 year
JT: I think it ended up being from June 2002 to June 2003
ZJ: Did you not want to do it a second year?
JT: Most of the mascot team graduated that year and so if they had all been around I definitely would have done it again but it was A LOT of time and I kinda thought focusing on school just a little while in college would be a good idea ?
JT: My sister actually did it the year after me so it was nice we both got to do it on our own
ZJ: What was your record against USC during your reign?
ZJ: Does that mean not good?
JT: basically we sucked at almost all sports the year I was mascot
JT: it was a year of transitions
ZJ: At any given point did you think I should have ditched Joe Bruin and tried going on a date with Tommy Trojan?
JT: Hell no! Tommy wears a skirt.
ZJ: So did Braveheart.
ZJ: For those of us that either went to USC or just don’t know, what is the nature of Joe and Josie Bruins relationship?
ZJ: Are they siblings or spouses?
JT: they have a “relationship 🙂
JT: not siblings and not spouses
ZJ: What’s it like in the suit?
JT: not to be really disgusting but you basically bathe in your own sweat
JT: Fortunately the year I did it we each had our own suit so at least it was only our own sweat
ZJ: What was game day like for football season?
JT: when I did it there were 6 of us so 2 did pregame, 2 first half and 2 second half
JT: you have to get to the rose bowl super early
JT: games were all day events
JT: First we would go and perform at the alumni tailgating event after warming up and settling into the locker room. Then we would hang out and take pictures with people around there. Then the Chancellors tent for another performance that we would razor scooter too ? since it was allllll the way around the bowl and you can’t move all that fast in the suit. Then back to the locker room to get ready for taking field
JT: I think that was the order of events 🙂
ZJ: Did you get to take the suit to parties? Also, did people like partying with Josie Bruin upon finding out you were her alter–ego?
JT: We did get to keep our own suits and were in charge of cleaning our own too (machine washable babay!) but we were not allowed make appearances etc without permission
JT: I don’t know if I really told that many people at parties at the time but it’s pretty awesome at job interviews
ZJ: I have trouble believing you never put the suit on and rolled to Maloney’s.
JT: haha nope. no rollin for josie
JT: except on razor scooters on game days
JT: ooooo and heelies!
JT: we had a special heelies routine for basketball season
JT: I forgot about that
ZJ: That seems to be the difference between USC and UCLA. Traveller (the horse Tommy Trojan rides) used to do keg stands at parties, which was really impressive being that it took half a fraternity to lift him up.
JT: hahaha he did??? 🙂
JT: did you ever see Tommy at a party?
ZJ: No, just the horse. Like I said, he was really into girls and booze. I know Tommy used to get frustrated when Traveller would show up late for game day reeking of gin and stories.
ZJ: But I understand the stress. With Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush on those teams, we scored so many touchdowns, the poor horse was always sprinting.
JT: what better way to rehydrate than gin?
ZJ: Agreed. Well, whiskey.
ZJ: Was it ever hard to stay cheery if your team was losing?
JT: Sometimes… but with the yell crew, cheerleaders, dance team and marching band surrounding you cheering AND when you’re ON THE FIELD OF THE ROSE BOWL surrounded by UCLA fans, it’s not that bad aaaand I liked to flirt with pretty much everyone so I could always find something to entertain me
JT: btw Josie was the flirt not me ?
ZJ: Did you ever get a phone number as Josie?
JT: hahaha not that I recall, I did sign a few autographs but no numbers
ZJ: Weirdest memory from your Josie days?
JT: haha I was waiting for that one
JT: I would say when I almost got bearnapped in Washington
JT: We were all performing at the Alumni event there before the game
and all of the sudden in mid-bear-dance-move I found myself sideways and being carried away
JT: Vision is pretty limited so I had NO IDEA what was going on
fortunately the band director came chasing after the Washington cheer-men who had taken me and they let me go
JT: I wonder where they had planned on taking me?
ZJ: I am pretty sure you could have taken them after all you were a bear and they were, well, male cheerleaders.
ZJ: What do you think?
JT: I was just about to unleash the bruin on them when the band director came running
ZJ: So you got to travel with the team?
JT: we went to football
JT: no basketball
JT: at least not regular season
JT: I think theres a NCAA rule against it actually
ZJ: There is an NCAA rule against everything but being an asshole I think.
JT: and even that is allowed sometimes… I mean Trojans are allowed to play no? 🙂
ZJ: OK. A few more.
JT: cool beans
ZJ: favorite part of the experience?
JT: thats a hard one. Hanging out with my fellow mascots all day every day was pretty awesome. You wouldnt believe the amount of practice/time/effort that goes into being a mascot…. Being on the field of the Rose Bowl was amazing period. On the floor of Pauley amazing too. BUT I would have to say my favorite part was being a part of bruin history and being that big of a part of UCLA. It was kinda anonymous but I loved feeling that much a part of something as big and awesome as UCLA
JT: cheesy i know sorry
ZJ: I felt that way the first time I booted on campus in front of total strangers. I thought, now I am a part of this tradition.
ZJ: I’m kidding. I do understand. I imagine being on the field was pretty exciting and you certainly got a chance to make a lot of Bruin fans happy.
ZJ: Which as much as it pains me to say, is probably a really good thing ?
JT: winning the Mascot National Championship was pretty awesome too
ZJ: How does that work?
JT: we choreographed a routine of all 6 of us together (which was cool because we normally only performed in pairs) and then went and performed it at the national competition
ZJ: who was your competition?
JT: hmm the only competitor I remember was the Oregon ducks but there were a bunhc of others
JT: no Tommy though, I’m sure he didnt make the cut 🙂
ZJ: Too busy robbing banks at sword point. Holler.
ZJ: Any words of advice to future Josie Bruins?
JT: Just have fun. It’s amazing how awesome it is to act freely without any worry of looking stupid… in fact people like it when you do something stupid like fall down or run your face square into a door frame (yes I did both)