At a university, a mascot plays a pivotal role: it brings the student community together. If you didn’t already know, York University’s mascot is Yeo, the YorkU lion. You can probably see Yeo at the next sporting or school-wide event. You might even catch Yeo walking around campus or sipping a cappuccino at the Aroma Espresso Bar.
Bryan Tham, York University’s handler of Yeo, provided some insights about the mascot’s important role for the community.
Some people might wonder who hides under that suit. Rest assured, Bryan says that Yeo is “just an ordinary human who is in university studying and meeting some new friends day by day.”
After getting suited up, Yeo heads to work. Thankfully, Yeo’s job isn’t too stressful or tedious. Bryan explains “there always will be a different energy surging through Yeo’s veins. It’s like the suit gives the person underneath some kind of mental push to actually go out there.” On top of being the school’s mascot, Yeo’s duty is to make people “smile or laugh even though they are having a bad day,” says Bryan.
Last season, Yeo attended the OUA semi-finals men’s soccer match between York and TMU. At the last minute, one of York University’s players scored, bringing York to the finals.
According to Bryan, Yeo brought out the best of the York Spirit at the match, “Yeo was like part of the crowd even though Yeo is a mascot. It’s like Yeo has become a real person and blended in with the crowd to celebrate that victorious win for York’s Men Soccer team.”
Despite Yeo’s friendly demeanour, students react to the mascot differently. Bryan testifies that some students get “super excited when they see Yeo, whereby they will just run towards Yeo and ask for a picture or even give hugs to Yeo.”
Alternatively, some students fear Yeo. Bryan notes that “there is another group of people who will be running away from Yeo because they are kind of scared of mascots.” But don’t worry – Yeo doesn’t bite. Bryan emphasizes that Yeo is a “super friendly lion, even though Yeo looks super scary to some people from far.” And remember, underneath that suit is an ordinary York University student just like you.
Bryan highlights that Yeo’s presence results in “bringing surprises and happiness to the students.” Whether you love or fear mascots, it’s clear that Yeo brings joy for the York University community.