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Get to know your Pitt Panther

Ramesh C. Reddy
Managing Editor

Editor's Note: This interview originally appeared in the print edition of the Pittsburgh Standard when I served as its Managing Editor. It will be broken down into 5 parts. The pictures are from the recent Pitt v.s Notre Dame game.

Part I:

Ramesh: What made you want to be a Pitt Panther?

Panther: Actually I played football for seven years and then in my senior year I guess I realized I was not going to get much playing time so the cheerleaders asked me if I would be the mascot for my high school. I was like yeah sure and I really liked it. My friend from Penn St tried out and became a Nittany Lion and I thought that was the coolest thing ever so when I came to Pitt it was my ultimate goal just to be the Pitt Panther and I did it pretty fast. I got here and three weeks later I am the Pitt Panther.

Pitt Panther gets carried by Oakland Zoo fans during Pitt v.s Notre Dame

Ramesh: Cool! When we beat Pitt St 12-0, was your friend the Nittany Lion?

Panther: Yeah!

Ramesh: What has been your most memorable experience as a Panther so far?

Panther: Most memorable experience? (Silence thinking) Wow!

Ramesh: Take your time.

Panther: (silence...) I guess it would probably, huh thatís a tough one; I remember pretty much everything I have ever done with it. I guess actually, the Big East Tournament last year in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Everyone picked us to lose in the first few games but we went all the way to the championship. I guess the most memorable experience would be when we played Syracuse that night and we beat them.

Ramesh: Wow!

Panther: That was amazing and we beat Notre Dame and all that, that whole trip was just amazing, pulling it out from nowhere.

Ramesh: Cool! What has been a memory you would like to forget as a Pitt Panther?

Panther: Memory I would like to forget? (Hmm) Every year I go to Temple and I always go up into the crowd because I am from Lancaster and have a lot of family and friends that go to that game. The crowd there is really intense; they are mean people, really mean to the mascot. I went up in the stands to see some family and would go around and make my rounds. There must have been a group of 12 kids that just beat me up.

Ramesh: Awe

Panther: Yeah, I guess that would be probably the memory I would like to forget. This year was not that bad but the year before I got beat up pretty bad.

Ramesh: Awe man! Did your uniform come off?

Panther: Yeah, my head blew off

Ramesh: Awe, that is not good! Have you missed any games being a Pitt mascot and if so why?

Panther: Yeah, I have missed games. I always miss the West Virginia game because I really donít have any time to go home and see my family. At Thanksgiving I like to be with my family.

Ramesh: I understand.

Panther: I live pretty far away so I go home every West Virginia game. Thatís pretty much all I miss except sometimes I would miss basketball games because I have work that I have to get done. Sometimes she doesnít take me. There are only a couple of Away games she didnít take me too and that are pretty much it. Sometimes I donít go to Away games because they base it on seniority. When we go to places like Miami, Boston, stuff like that they only take based on seniority.

Ramesh: Based on whose seniority?

Panther: Like the cheerleaders who have been here for 4 years.

Ramesh: Whoís your supervisor?

Panther: Her name is Theresa Nuzzo

Ramesh: So, Theresa Nuzzo is also the Panthersí supervisor?

Panther: Yeah, yeah!

Part II: 

Ramesh: Okay! In the past you used to play fight with mascots of other teams but it has not happened recently; can you tell me why?

Panther: Well, ever since Sept 11, a lot of mascots that come to Pitt are not allowed to wrestle around as much. A lot of people, athletic directors of other schools, are trying to calm it down and make it more of a fun stuff than beating each other up. Some are not allowed to fight, some have been. The Hokie and I we went at it last game. The athletic directors are the problem right now. They donít want mascots showing at it.

Ramesh: How do you feel about that?

Panther: I think it is just tradition. Mascots are supposed to fight. I look forward to fighting a mascot at every game. Thatís the way I feel about it.

Ramesh: How long have you been the Pitt Panther?

Panther: This is my second year now. I am only a sophomore.

Ramesh: Cool.

Panther: When was the last time you can remember your tail being pulled off? What did you do?

Panther: (Laughing) It was ripped off first in Pittsburgh. I was crowd surfing when it happened. All of a sudden I felt someone pull and it was ripped of and I got down and I grabbed it real quick.

Ramesh: (laughs)

Panther: The last time it happened I was at Temple. They have two mascots there. They have a Little Hooter and the Hooter; they are the Temple Owls. I was over there wrestling and one of my friends who is a cheerleader for Temple and we went to high school together, she came back and pulled on my tail and it ripped off.

Ramesh: What did you do?

Panther: I just picked up and started beating the Owl with it.

Part III:

Ramesh: People would never try to hug a real Panther. How many hugs do you think you have received and given as a Pitt Panther?

Panther: Oh my! Hundreds, thousands, so many hugs, every game I bet there are at least 100 kids wanting a hug, probably hundred students that want a hug.  There are thousands of pictures that I could not even count. There are thousands of hugs in pictures.

Ramesh: Wonderful! (Laughing) Has the Panther found a She-Panther to date?

Panther: Yeah, I have a girlfriend! She does not go to school here though. She goes to JMU.

Ramesh: JMU?

Panther: James Madison University.

Ramesh: Okay! Cool! Whatís their mascot back there?

Panther: James Madison?

Ramesh: Yeah!

Panther: The Duke Dog

Ramesh: Okay! Where does the Panther like to live in the winter season?

Panther: In the winter season? I am usually up at the Field House for the basketball games. I live on Atwood St.

Ramesh: Do you like to live there?

Panther: Yeah, I love it there! It is a great location. I am right across from India Garden and right up the street is Antoonís Pizza. You canít beat the location.

Ramesh: Oh cool! For those students who do not know, how did you get the Panther position? What was the process?

Panther: It was last year right after the pep rally. I approached some cheerleaders about it. I didnít think I would get the Panther job. Right away I thought it was a seniority thing. I basically tried out at a pep rally and did pretty good I guess. Theresa said I could be the Panther anytime I want.

 Part IV:

Ramesh: Itís a jungle out there; have you ever felt you faced adversity? If so, what was it and how did you handle it?

Panther: I guess Temple would be the only time it happened. I just lay down and took it.

Ramesh: Awe

Panther: I covered my face and curled up. Thatís about all I could do.

Ramesh: Did anyone come and rescue you?

Panther: Eventually! It took time but eventually some Pitt fans saw what was happening, ran down and helped me out.

Ramesh: Wonderful! With the holiday season coming up, what does the Panther like to celebrate and why?

Panther: Christmas, Christmas!  I am Christian so you know Jesusí birthday is pretty important.

Ramesh: Cool! Do you like to be the mystery Panther or prefer people to know the person behind the mask?

Panther:  Well, a lot of people know I am the Panther because of the article last year. All my friends tell everybody wherever I go that I am the Pitt Panther. It doesnít matter to me; I donít care if people know. I prefer I guess to be like the mystery Panther because I do a lot of silly things. I wouldnít be as embarrassed about it if people didnít know who I was.

Ramesh: What is the Pantherís favorite sport and why?

Panther: Football! I love it; I have played it so many years and generally the crowd is more intense. You draw in more people and it is a lot of fun. Other mascots come to that and I can have fun with them. I think it is more intense.

Ramesh: Great! Does the Panther like to study Zoology, the study of animals?

Panther: Actually, honestly I thought about majoring in that and going into veterinarian school and something like that because I have an Iguana. I am into pets and I love dogs. I wanted to work in a zoo this past summer but I kind of threw out that idea. I want to be a teacher.

Ramesh: What kind of music does the Panther love to listen to?

Panther: I love all kinds of music. I love country, rap, rock, and so on.

Ramesh: What is your favorite band and female singer?

Panther: As a band I love OR: Our Revolution, they are my favorite band right now and I have to go with Brittany Spears!

Panther: Yeah!

Ramesh: Did you go to her concert?

Panther: No, my friends made it. I could not make it that night. My family came in because it was my birthday weekend and I had to entertain them rather than going and seeing Brittany Spears.

Ramesh: Awe, they should be entertaining you on your birthday.

Panther: Yeah!

Ramesh: Have you ever watched ďAll Dogs Go to Heaven?Ē before you became a Panther?

Panther: ďAll Dogs Go to Heaven?Ē I have seen the movie. I think it is a good movie.

Ramesh: Do you believe in Heaven and Hell and if so, why?

Panther: Yes, I definitely do! I was raised Christian and go to church not as much here but I go to a lot of Bible studies. I go to Cornerstone. I donít know if you have ever heard of that?

Ramesh: Yes!

Panther: I go to that! I try to keep involved. I have morals as a Christian. I definitely believe in Heaven and Hell.

 Part V:

Ramesh: Okay! What is the hardest thing of being a Panther?

Panther: It takes up all of my time. Itís hard to find time for school. I came to college and wanted to be a Panther but I wanted to do a lot of other things. Since I became a Panther, I have not had time for anything else other than that. Otherwise I would not get any schoolwork done if I had anything else. It really does take all of my time.

Ramesh: Cool! What is the easiest thing about being a Panther?

Panther: Easiest thing? I think the easiest thing, getting to go to in all these away games traveling. Thatís pretty amazing! I am flying these planes and staying in these incredible hotels having a good time. That would be the easiest thing being a Panther.

Ramesh: Wow! What is the Pantherís favorite food?

Panther: I am a big Chinese fan. I really love Chinese food. I go to that. Chinese buffet a lot.

Ramesh: Cool! What is the Pantherís favorite beverage?

Panther: Favorite beverage? Cherry Coke!

Ramesh: Any reason why?

Panther: I have always loved Cherry Coke. Itís my ultimate favorite.

Ramesh: How much sleep does the Panther need on the average?

Panther: I make sure I get 8 hours on the average. If I donít get 8 hours of sleep, I am miserable and cannot function well.

Ramesh: Wow! How does the Panther celebrate his birthday?

Panther: Well, this year my family came up. They took me out to dinner and gave me all kinds of gifts. Thatís pretty much it! I get a cake, the normal birthday thing.

Ramesh: Was your girlfriend able to make it?

Panther: Yeah, she came up this year! It was nice!

Ramesh: Cool! In closing, what words of wisdom does the Panther give to the student body for their years at Pitt?

Panther: Wow! Just keep up the hardcore Pitt Spirit you know! Be hardcore fans and show up! Thatís about it!

Ramesh: Thank you so much JÖÖ! (handshake). I really appreciate it. Yeah!

Panther: Wow!

Ramesh: Thank you very much!

Pitt Panther joins me for a picture during the Pitt v.s Notre Dame game