By Anel Ceballos, Mar. 02, 2021
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CPP mascot Billy Bronco was often seen at campus events, club fairs and sports games. Through nonverbal cues, Billy’s job is to stirrup crowds and cheer on the Broncos; but behind the scenes and stables, it takes a lot of time and practice to become the best possible Billy.
According to the Athletics Department, CPP athletics dates back to 1939 when the university was known as the Voorhis Unit, a southern satellite campus for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Before CPP was represented by the Broncos, the campus went by the same mascot as San Luis Obispo: Cal Poly Mustangs.
When CPP reopened in 1945 after closing down in 1942 due to declining war-time enrollment, students wanted to change their nickname to differentiate the two schools. In 1947, students voted to become the Broncos and introduced their number one supporter: Billy Bronco.
Jazminn Parrish, a sophomore outside hitter on the volleyball team, recognizes Billy’s support for the team and interactions with the crowd.
“The fans really enjoy having Billy as something to look forward to while we’re in timeouts,” said Parrish. “And he always cheers us on and after the game.”
Assistant Athletics Director of Marketing and Promotions Mike Farrell is in charge of most decisions regarding Billy including selecting which students become Billy. Applicants must apply online and go through an interview process with Farrell. Various students are usually cast as Billy to allow flexibility in each student’s schedule.
“I’m looking for someone who wants to embody what the mascot is,” said Farrell. “We don’t want someone who’s just kind of sitting in the back and not doing anything, someone who’s not afraid to be in front of a crowd.”
According to Farrell, obtaining the role of Billy is a serious responsibility due to the strict regulations that comes with playing CPP’s mascot. Protocols list that Billy should never talk, should refrain from physical handling of fans and never be seen drinking any alcoholic beverages or taking photos with fans in inappropriate attire. Billy’s top priority is athletic events but is allowed to participate in other university events.
“Billy’s our brand, our identity,” added Farrell. “He’s a representative of the Athletics Department.”
Despite campus events being halted due to the pandemic, Billy continues to saddle up on social media with academic departments, making frequent appearances in announcements and other media sent to the community.
Junior setter Kira Zimmerman believes Billy is essential to campus life.
“Billy is special because there’s only one Billy and he’s a cross-over between student-athletes and our school mascot in general,” said Zimmerman. “He brings us all together and reinstates the Broncos’ pride.”
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