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Behind the mask: who is Kingston the Knight?


Jamey Wood, Lynn Sanders, Sandra Breaden, Kristi Brannen, Dr. Ty Faulk and Dr. Angela Crevar meet Kingston for the first time on July 26. The administrators were thrilled to finally see the finished costume after months of hard work. photo by Adam Bain

 

The crowd waits anxiously in the stands. Suddenly, a tall, glorious foam figure appears wearing silver boots, a large chestpiece, a helmet with navy and gray plume and a magnificent cape. The respected and noble knight, Kingston, jogs across the field to tumultuous applause. But underneath the cheering, a murmur can be heard. Who is this beloved mascot? What face lies under that beautifully crafted fabric headpiece?


In the past, the school had various make-shift mascots appear. Volunteers wore

knight costumes at games to energize the crowd. Some examples include Jacob

Miller (2015), Ashlyn Armour (2016), Ansley Smith and Lydia Williams (2017). Though these appearances were enjoyable for students, they did not meet the criteria for an official mascot.


“In the early years of TKA, many of our students participated in a local homeschool athletic organization called Northside Christian Athletics,” Student Programs Director Sandra Breaden said. “Their mascot was a lion, and we adopted it for the school and even rented a lion costume for the start of one school year. Later, when we founded Crown Athletics, we chose the Knights as our team name.”


The administration has always wanted a mascot to symbolize and promote school spirit. They decided to wait on the idea until funding became available to make a quality costume.


“Having a school mascot has been a personal dream of mine for many years,” Mrs. Breaden said. “I especially wanted this for the school once we brought the Knights completely under our umbrella as TKA Knights.”


In 2016, Adam Bain, a father at the school, redesigned the school’s overall branding. Once allowed, he got to work creating the costume. Mr. Bain took several employees to the International Mascot Corporation, a well- known company that has made many mascots, such as the Chick-fil-A cow, UGA’s bulldog and Tony the Tiger, to learn how their costumes are made. The process included many drawings, tweaks and decisions on style and fabrications. By the time the completed costume arrived in July, the new student mascot program was established, with Valerie Bone as the coach.


The wearer of the costume is somewhat of a secret. While the costume is worn, his or her face cannot be seen. The mascot team consists of six people, who wear the costume, and four handlers.


“I almost felt like a knight [the first time I put on the costume],” anonymous said. “I was the first person to put it on in our section. It was very powerful once I got it all the way on."


The cheerleading team meets the mascot for the first time in July. They were introduced to Kingston at their photoshoot for the yearbook at the Northside Amphitheater in Downtown Woodstock. photo by Gina Cellino


Already, the mascot team has made many great memories. A team member especially enjoyed the tryout process and appearing as the mascot at the high school kickoff. “When I was the mascot, I accidentally scared a ton of people,” anonymous said. “I would walk up behind them, and they didn’t know I was there. I also walked into a class, and the teacher didn’t notice. I sat down [at the front of the class], and it actually took her five minutes to see me.”


Being a mascot is much more than meets the eye. It includes physical activity, acting skills, creativity and a sense of humor.


“I had no idea what a true art it is to be a mascot,” Mascot Team Coach Valerie Bone said. “A guy who used to be the Brave’s mascot came in to help with a training session for our team, and I was just completely in awe.”


The new mascot has been an enormous success and a great addition to the school brand. It personifies TKA as a school and represents it in a new and exciting way.


“While it may seem like just a fun ‘extra’ for the school, mascots actually serve an important marketing role for an organization,” Mrs. Breaden said. “Mascots can help increase awareness of the organization and make its brand more recognizable. They can serve as a positive image to drive school spirit and a unified sense of belonging to a team. They add positive morale to special events and are great for publicity on social media. And yes, they are a lot of fun to watch and engage with at games and other events.”

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