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The men behind the Ace suit

Posted on 10.09.2013

The true identity of Ace the Greyhound is a closely kept secret that few know. Ace has been visible lately with appearances during last week’s Homecoming events and other activities off campus, but the people inside the suit have stayed invisible to all but an exclusive few.
One of those few, Tricia Hensley, a graduate assistant and sports management master’s student, is responsible for filling the mascot position and coordinating Ace’s appearances. She said that one reason why the secret is kept is because it allows more freedom to be silly and provides an outlet of escape.
“[As Ace,] you can do whatever you want. If you’re a really quiet person in class, you can be wild and crazy in the suit because no one is going to know any different,” Hensley said. “You can be whoever you want for a while.”
Although one of the men behind Ace  declined to comment, the other, who is a  two-year veteran of the position, agreed to share his experiences but chose to remain anonymous. He first stepped into the mascot suit in November 2011. He discovered the position from one of the student activities e-mails from Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli. He said that the experience has given him an opportunity to be an even more outgoing version of himself.
“My entire life, I’ve been into music and dancing and being myself around people,” he said. “… People not knowing it [the mascot] is you is a chance to [be yourself] even more.”
Veteran Ace said that putting on the suit is a complicated process that takes about 10 minutes. He said that it takes a special kind of person to withstand the heat inside, especially when performing.
In the past, Hensley said, only one individual has filled the mascot suit. She chose to have two people this year to avoid scheduling conflicts and make sure Ace could be where he was needed.
Hensley said that there is more on Ace’s schedule than most would think. There is a request form on the athletics website for people on and off campus to request that Ace make an appearance at events. Veteran Ace makes many of the off-campus appearances, including the Indiana Sports Corp Corporate Challenge, the Indianapolis 500, various animal events, and Hounds Go Wild: UIndy Zoo Day at the Indianapolis Zoo.
Veteran Ace said that some of his most memorable appearances have been on campus, where he tries to get University President Robert Manuel out of his comfort zone. He has enjoyed appearing at inaugural events, getting to know Manuel and making UIndy’s first family laugh.
Another memorable thing that Veteran Ace continues to do is propose to a certain girl on campus every time he     sees her while in costume. He said it was kind of a spur of the moment thing that turned into an ongoing joke.
Things like proposing to a specific girl and biting the university president’s head may make being Ace exciting, but there is also work to be done. Being the mascot is a paid job and requires attendance at athletic and off-campus events. But Ace’s primary job is to give people a memorable experience and a welcome distraction from reality.
“It is totally a 100 percent fun thing, [but] you have some responsibilities with confidentiality and not speaking, and things like that,” he said. “[I am always] trying to give people that experience. I am there to keep spirit up, get people to laugh and get that break from studying, especially when I do appearances on campus.”
Hensley said that Ace’s importance extends past campus. Ace is a symbol who represents UIndy for many former students, community partners and others.
“I feel like it [Ace] is a very visible part of the culture, [so] I don’t know if it necessarily means a lot to the students, but it means a lot to the family members, alums and their kids,” Hensley said. “It is more of a community peace than just a campus peace.”


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