By Eric Baxter, COCE Academic Advisor
SNHU graphic arts student Kristopher “Kit” Ackermann knows about risk and passion. And about getting lucky.
In the final semester of his senior year at Tennessee’s University of Memphis he was offered a singular chance, a shot to walk a rainbow to the legendary pot of gold. Ackermann found not gold but a vest, floppy bow tie, bowler hat, a strange sort of fame, and an enormous amount of satisfaction.
Ackermann became Lucky, the Boston Celtics mascot known for acrobatic dunk shows and keeping the crowd at a fever-pitch during home games.
“People thought I was a little crazy,” said Ackermann, 27, of his spur-of-the-moment decision to uproot himself from his home state and move across the country. “But you only get so many moments to jump into something.”
Ackermann began attending Memphis in the fall of 2006 and pursued a degree in graphic arts. While attending he built on a passion for sports and performance by joining the university basketball program as a dunk team member and understudy to the Tigers’ mascot. During his time with the NCAA Division I team, he learned about crowds and what it takes to be a good performer, specifically a good mascot.
Being a mascot is more than simply clowning in a costume. Ackermann performs technical and acrobatic dunk shows during games and is constantly moving, acting for and interacting with the crowd. It’s a physically demanding job requiring daily workouts and conditioning. More, it means understanding performance, the construction and pacing of an act and the ability to read an audience.
“You have to be always testing your limits and pushing the envelope,” he said.
When Ackermann left Memphis in the spring semester of 2009 to become Lucky, he had a singular challenge ahead of him. While becoming a member of the elite “Fur-ternity” of professional sports mascots, he remains the only one who doesn’t wear a full-coverage costume. The challenge becomes mixing his personality with the personality of the mascot.
“You have to find that part of yourself you love and inject it into the character,” Ackermann said.
Being a good mascot is part performance but an equal share of art, and art was one of Ackermann’s earliest interests. Even today, in his free time, Ackermann draws and paints. It’s this passion that will likely become his second career when his time as Lucky ends. Being a mascot can take a toll on the body, and the long hours of public performance and physical activity are more of a younger person’s game. It’s this view to the future that eventually led him to SNHU to earn his degree in graphic design online.
For Ackermann, following his passion has paid off on the court and off, and that’s perhaps the best lesson.
“When you work hard at something, there is always a payoff,” he said. “I’ll put in the same effort in the classroom and it will all work out.”