On Friday night, our family went to a Whitworth University basketball game. Whitworth is a small Division III Christian private college in north Spokane. In my opinion, it doesn’t get purer in intercollegiate athletics than D-III. Student-athletes don’t receive scholarships, they aren’t banking on NIL deals, and there is a community vibe at all sporting events.
That latter characteristic of Division III athletics—community—was on full display when we visited the Whitworth Fieldhouse to start the weekend. My kids and their cousins jumped in a complimentary jump castle throughout the game, the football team unfurled a United States flag on the court during the national anthem, and the cash-only concessions trailer sold all items for under $5.
However, what delighted me the most—besides both the men’s and women’s teams picking up wins—were the special guests who attended the game. As the men’s team warmed up, a crew of costumed characters appeared from behind the bleachers.
In addition to Whitworth’s new mascot, Captain Patches, six of his friends emerged with him. You had Boomer from the Spokane Chiefs, Spike from Gonzaga, Chazzy from CHAS Health, and the entire Spokane Indians mascot contingent—Otto, Doris, and Ribby. Sloan, Mikayla, and Johnny were so excited they didn’t know what to do with themselves. After a few minutes, Beau warmed up to most of them too.
Ah, yes, Captain Patches was marking his first birthday and all his friends came to celebrate. As a former sports marketer, I know the appeal and logistical challenge of getting so many mascots under one roof on a given night. Fans love to see so many area characters together. There is just something cool about numerous furry faces collaborating with each other and supporting one of their own. But getting everyone together takes a lot of scheduling prowess and hosting them requires ample locker room space and accommodations.
Kudos to the Whitworth gameday team for making it happen on Friday. A truly impressive lineup of Spokane mascots traveled up north for the occasion and the kids in attendance had full access to them. As the teams warmed up, the mascots were available under the baseline for children to interact with them. Parents were free to snap photos and take videos. During halftime, there was a skit with the mascots. It was a bowling competition with an oversized ball and pins. Go figure, Captain Patches won. Afterwards, everyone was treated to free cake.
We had no idea that Captain Patches was celebrating his birthday on Friday night and that so many mascots would be in attendance. But it was such a nice surprise and the perfect way to put an exclamation point on a perfect Whitworth basketball experience. Don’t Blink.