Parkersburg South High School graduate serving as Marshall University’s mascot
HUNTINGTON — Most of the time, 2014 Parkersburg South High School graduate Kelsey Good is a mild-mannered criminal justice major, preparing to graduate from Marshall University in December with a minor in Spanish.
She works in the Thundering Herd ticket office and is trying to decide whether her next step will be entering the police academy or joining the U.S. Navy.
But Good has another identity, instantly recognizable to Thundering Herd fans: Marshall’s boisterous mascot Marco.
“I love being able to be an idiot and nobody knows who you are,” she said with a laugh.
But for all the fun she has with the role — and there’s plenty — Good also knows what that buffalo represents.
“Marco is the key to Marshall,” she said.
“The role of Marco is kind of the front line of our university,” Marshall Associate Athletic Director Aaron Goebbel said. Good “represents us in a great way. … We are very, very fortunate to have Kelsey.”
Good is about to enter her second academic year as Marshall’s living logo. She learned about tryouts online and decided, “Why not take the chance?”
Thanks in part to her experience as Stewie, the mascot for Huntington’s Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs, she was selected to be one of the mascots. Students rotated duties in the suit and worked as “handlers,” helping their costumed compatriot navigate their surroundings.
Due to various circumstances, Good said, she was the only one donning the costume from December until a few weeks ago. That upped her workload, but she didn’t mind.
Good was Marco throughout basketball season, including the Herd’s upset win over Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament in Dallas and their clash with West Virginia University in the second round in San Diego.
“I don’t regret it one bit,” Good said.
Seeing the excitement of the fans when she approaches in costume is the highlight of the gig for Good. And there’s no age limit on that excitement.
“A 60-year-old man may act the same as a 10-year-old little boy,” Good said.
“Seeing that smile on their face makes all the sweat worth it,” she said. “Because I’m secretly dying on the inside.”
Being in the Marco suit is comparable to sitting in a sauna, Good said. It was a struggle in the beginning, but she got used to it — even if she does still prefer night and cold-weather games to a sunny late summer or fall afternoon.
“It is still hot but there is a complete difference depending on the season,” she said.
Although she’s working, Good has to keep aware of what’s going on on the field or the court.
“I watch the game in order to react to certain moments,” she said. “Also, I can watch the audience.”
In addition to football and basketball, Good has made appearances at soccer and volleyball games. And her work as Marco isn’t limited to sporting events.
“If it’s a ribbon-cutting or read-to-a-classroom program, the variety is far and wide,” Goebbel said.
“This past summer, I actually got to go to the courthouse and be part of an adoption,” Good said, recalling the parents were Thundering Herd fans and family members present wore Marshall jerseys.
Although the names of the people in the Marco suit are usually kept under wraps, Good and her role were featured in the March issue of “Thundering Herd Illustrated.” Before that, only the Athletic Department staff, family and a few close friends knew about her secret identity.
Good recalled some friends asking why they never saw her at football games.
“I would see them at events and they wouldn’t know,” she said.
Since she’s graduating in December, Good won’t be continuing as Marco into the upcoming basketball season.
“I’ll be slowly handing off my hooves to other people,” she said.
Although being the mascot puts a lot on her plate, Good said she has benefitted from the experience.
“Being a mascot really helps you interact with people,” she said. That experience is something she can carry into her criminal justice career — even if it is mostly body language.
Good’s advice to anyone else thinking about becoming a mascot? “Do it, because it’s so much fun,” she said. “I would recommend it to anybody.”