The Weal’s own Kyle Meller sat down with Thiago Bechelane, or perhaps he’s better known as Troy the Trojan. Bechelane grew up in Brazil and came to Canada a few years ago. At SAIT, he studies electronics engineering. SAIT’s official mascot was chosen in 1998 because a horse is considered a very spirited and powerful animal—their words not ours. Since then, students’ have played the role of the endearing, yet very built (have you seen his abs?) horse. This year Bechelane got the chance to dawn the horse head and the Weal wanted to see just who was underneath all that fur (but horses have hair, don’t they?).
The Weal: So tell us, how’d you find out about this gig?
Thiago Bechelane: Well, it’s kind of a funny story. I was looking for a job, but not the Troy the Trojan one specifically. So I looked on SAITSA’s website and there were some openings for sport related positions, but there was never any mention of that one! When I applied it was the last day to do so, and I didn’t have my resume with me but I knew I had to go. When I got there they seemed to like me and I got to be Troy.
TW: Did you want to be Troy?
TB: At first, it’s like: oh do I want to be the mascot? I grew up watching those American movies that portray those guys who wear the costumes as the ones who get bullied. There was a certain stigma of someone who is anti-social, so I was uncertain. The staff convinced me otherwise [laughs]. I figured if they think it’s such a great idea, then why not? The athletes always treat me well.
TW: Can you be more expressive underneath all that fur?
TB: Oh for sure. Yeah it’s probably the best part about being the mascot. You’re that anonymous guy (not anymore). Obviously there are limits, but you can do pretty much anything and you have a great time working. It’s a nice combination of working and having fun.
TW: What’s your favourite sport to work?
TB: Probably hockey, but you can’t be as close to the action as in the gym. I really enjoy the songs at hockey though.
TW: Is there a mascot you like to take after (your spirit animal)?
TB: In my country [Brazil] we don’t have the mascot culture like Canada does. Soccer is very popular, and the fans are crazy so that’s mostly it. In my hometown, however, a few years ago they came up with a mascot. It was a chicken, but not just a lame chicken; this chicken was an angry chicken. He was a very strong chicken that would wave this huge flag around. Everyone loved the mascot, and he’s probably one of my favourites.
TW: Do you have a favourite memory in the costume?
TB: I have really good memories. It’s not one moment though that is my favourite, but the kids who come every game. There’s one girl who has come a couple times, and just lights up when she sees the horse, saying ‘Troy you’re here!’ It’s a lot of fun to see how passionate the kids are about the mascot. I had no idea when I started the job it would be like that. I remember one dad who brings his kids to every game, came up to me once and said ‘you’re doing a good job Troy, my kids only want to come because of you not the game.’ It makes me feel great.
TW: The question everyone wants to know, how hot does it get in there?
TB: It gets pretty hot. In the hockey arena, it’s okay. With all the ice in the arena, the temperature in the suit kind of balances out. However, in the gym it’s insane. It’s like a big teddy bear. Imagine going to the gym wearing two wool blankets and working out. When you first get into the suit, and you’re moving and grooving it’s okay but after a while it feels ten times as heavy.
TW: Are there ever days when you dread coming to work?
TB: No. If there’s one thing though it’s usually every third Friday. My program is really stressful and we have a math test every third week and it’s always on a Friday. When I feel like I didn’t do well on the test, you want to go home and forget about everything, but duty calls [laughs].
TW: What’s your favourite sport to watch?
TB: I’ve really grown fond of volleyball. The fast
paced action and reaction times are really something. Hockey is really something though. A few months ago I had no idea what hockey was, and now I enjoy watching it. It’s pretty hard watching in the suit though.
TW: What’s something people don’t know about you?
TB: I’m not really sure, but even though I’m having a hard time with college, I can still manage everything, put on the suit and have a great time.
TW: Where do you want to be in ten years?
TB: I don’t really plan that far ahead. I’m looking forward to graduating, and just doing my best at whatever I’m doing. I’ve already graduated as a systems analyst and just want to add to my experience.
TW: Last question, and it’s a fun one, what’s your favourite sandwich?
TB: [Laughs] Wow, can I say brands? Well, probably Burger King’s Angry Whopper.