UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Nittany Lion has unfinished business.
After not cracking the top 10 in the 2015-16 Universal Cheerleading Association mascot competition, the Lion is aiming for No. 1 in 2016-17 — and the Lion Troop is ready to help take Penn State’s beloved mascot to the top spot.
Enlisted by the human in the Lion costume, the Lion Troop student group is comprised of three juniors and one sophomore who contribute their talents in video, set making, props, construction, dance and publicity to raise the mascot’s profile in the national competition.
For Ryan Heidig, a senior film major in the College of Communications, working in the Lion Troop means “being able to combine my passion for Penn State and being a part of something that’s totally unique to Penn State. Using my skill set to produce content for the Lion and really affect audiences is my way of giving back to the University.”
Their skits are approved by Penn State Athletics, with the guidance of adviser and Cheerleading Coach Curtis White. He explained that “the Nittany Lion is given precious time to perform the skits in front of Penn State’s well over 100,000 fans at a football game. The skits must be entertaining and energized. This takes a ton of work and creativity. Being creative is the toughest part of any performance. The Lion Troop is an important piece in the puzzle.”
Last year, the troop helped the Nittany Lion enter the Universal Cheerleading Association’s mascot video competition, with a submission showcasing the Lion’s work at Penn State community events, where the Nittany Lion placed 13th.