GV searches for students to bring back Louie the Laker


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Grace Smith, Staff Writer

When Grand Valley State University used to be Grand Valley State College, Louie the Laker was introduced for the first time. From sleeping on the sidelines dreaming of football, to making cameos at various campus events, Louie has been at the heart of the Grand Valley community since 1965. 

After his recent hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19 regulations which prevented many campus events, students have begun to notice the beloved Louie the Laker is still missing from campus. Turns out, not even school mascots are exempt from the current employee shortage. Currently, the position for Louie the Laker remains unfilled alongside many other campus employment opportunities. 

David Wynkoop, associate athletic director, from the Grand Valley Department of Athletics, said that this issue has been ongoing for many years, albeit blind to the eyes of the community.

“Believe it or not, it’s been a struggle since I’ve gotten here, that was back in 2018,” said Wynkoop. “We haven’t really had a consistent group of students, most schools that I’ve worked at, it’s more than one person [who fills the position], and we haven’t really even been able to nail down one person consistently.”

Clubs and other organizations are able to request Louie to show up at their events. Although this position remains unfilled in a permanent sense, the Grand Valley Athletic Department has been able to find some people to volunteer to wear the mascot suit. Often, these volunteers are members of the club or organization hosting the event who are willing to wear the mascot suit for a few hours. 

 Much like other supervising faculty on campus, Wynkoop said he has had difficulties nailing down one consistent employee over the last few years, let alone multiple people who would fill this position in a standard year. 

“We’ve had very, very, few applicants,” said Wynkoop. “Some of the students had already either gotten other positions or interviewed for other positions within athletics and got those, so out of the candidate pool that we had, there were just no viable options.”

Wynkoop said that the Department of Athletics is looking for someone who is reliable, available and ready to get the crowd fired up. Furthermore, applicants should be in good physical health and able to withstand longer high-energy performances. Finally, applicants must be about average height so the mascot suit can fit properly. Unlike some institutions, the GVSU Athletic Department accepts both male and female applicants for this position.

As of right now, the position for Louie still remains completely open. Wynkoop said he hopes that the word will continue to spread and reach the right individuals on campus. Ultimately, he hopes to have Louie return to campus events consistently towards the end of October, at the latest. 

For those interested in being Louie, the onboarding process is fairly straightforward, Wynkoop said. The Athletic Department will begin by having applicants complete a trial run at a smaller event. If applicants are successful in bringing high energy and excitement to the event, they will become slowly acclimated to football games. 

This position does come with benefits such as a stipend, increasing student engagement and morale, and driving inclusivity. By being the school mascot, applicants will be able to create a visual representation of GVSU’s spirit and pride for its community and athletic teams, Wynkoop said. 

For those interested, it is recommended that they contact the Grand Valley athletic department for more information.