SWAPPING GIGS: Sterling trades places with the U of L mascot!
Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville Senior Cardinal Peyton Siva is known for ankle breaking moves.
Chane Behanan has footwork pro scouts dream about. But some might argue that neither player has the best moves on Louisville's basketball floor.
You can't forget about "Louie" the cardinal bird.
This U of L mascot sure can cut a rug. But what does it take to be the face of the University of Louisville in front of thousands of screaming fans at the Yum Center? There's only one way to find out.
WDRB in the Morning's Sterling Riggs put on the mascot suit during a U of L v. Samford basketball game.
Much like any other important job, it takes dedication and practice before you ever make it to the big show. He stopped by to visit with Head Spirit Coach Todd Sharp who says being a member of his cheer squad is serious business. Sharp's squads have multiple national championships.
"We have over 150 student athletes in our program and that includes our cardinal bird mascots. To the public, they see one mascot and think of it as "Louie" the Cardinal Bird, which is exactly what we want." But Sharp says "The truth is that behind the scenes, there are five student athletes that serve in that role, and they really work hard."
Senior Zach Grider is the lead mascot and the man behind the beak. He describes his job as an honor to represent Louisville. "It takes a lot of practice because you are looking through two small holes. It's like a mesh lining. You have to know your boundaries." Grider says, "As the mascot, you have to know what's below you, and what's beside you. You are not seeing that, because you are guessing."
Moving around in the suit was the least of Sterling's worries. He really needed to work on his dance moves. Grider told him "If you forget what to do, you can just give them some arm movement and pump the crowd up."
Sterling ran through the dance a few times in the mascot suit, and he felt he was ready to bust a move in front of 22,000 basketball fans. The final advice from head coach Todd Sharp? "When the band starts playing, go for it. The girls will count off for you and then you start doing the dance. OK!"
For the most part, Sterling felt the performance went well. Sharp told him afterward, "Serious moment here, you weren't just kind of good, you were as sharp as the girls. You were dead on the money. It's really hard to hear in that thing, so hats off."
WDRB in the Morning's Sterling Riggs is now the first non-student to wear the University of Louisville mascot costume. He's been working behind the scenes for a swapping gigs story on Monday, November 19th.
He even performed at the Yum! Center at the U of L vs. Samford game. Watch the video to check out his "smooth" moves. We can't wait to see what he had to do to learn how to be "The Bird."