The wit & delight of Kate Arends


Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Carole Gieseke. Photo by Jim Heemstra.

When Kate Arends (’06 graphic design) first learned that she had topped 1 million followers on Pinterest, she couldn’t believe it.

Her blog, Wit & Delight, had begun in 2009 and slowly built a following. Then, as an early adopter of Pinterest, she branched out.

“Out of the top hundred [Pinterest] pinners, there are a handful of us who are bloggers as well, so that’s been really powerful because we exist on multiple platforms instead of just one,” Arends said. “If you love Wit & Delight on Pinterest you can then discover the blog and then discover the Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts.”

Arends now has more than 2.6 million followers on Pinterest – a feat that has not gone unnoticed. Her unique passion for art, fashion, and culture has been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Lucky Magazine, The Inside Source (eBay’s digital shopping style magazine), Elle Decor, Mashable, the Glitter Guide, and The Everygirl. She was recently profiled in the July/August 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

When she launched her online presence, Arends said, “I found the things that I gravitate toward  he most always had an element of beauty, and there was always an element of humor in it. Those two things equaled a really interesting point of view; not a lot of people were looking at the world from that angle.”

A former communications and digital media director for The Daft Group and graphic designer for Cue, Inc., Arends is now running the Wit & Delight Studio full-time from her home in Minneapolis. And her brand is about to take another big leap: Last February, Target announced that Arends and two other top Pinterest tastemakers would have party collections featured in stores nationwide.

According to Pinterest, there are more than 700,000 party-planning-related items “pinned” on its  boards every day. The Wit & Delight party collection – in stores this fall – provides everything you’d need for a beer-tasting party. Arends said the collection was inspired by artisan food and  craft beer.

With her influence on her followers – mostly 25- to 40-year-old urban-dwelling females – Arends is
approached every day by companies pushing the latest décor, jewelry, footwear, and clothing.

“Someone like J. Crew will approach me and they’ll say, ‘We’ll pay you a fee for creating the  photography, writing, and doing your thing with our product and sharing it,’” she said. “I’m very, very choosy as to whom I accept sponsorships from. I say no to 80 percent of inquiries. But you get to put your creative stamp on it, and I think people appreciate the effort that goes into that.”

Arends admits her life isn’t as glamorous as it may come across online. Her husband, Joe Peters, has his own Twitter account (“Wit in Real Life”) that shows the behind-the-scenes life of a style  maven.

“He tweets about the mess I leave behind trying to Instagram a waffle,” she says.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) Next week is Thanksgiving, so be sure to follow ISU Extension & Outreach Answerline’s tips when it comes to stuffing safety!

2) Last week the website ran a story about ISU’s national champion shot putter, Christina Hillman, who has her own unique story about femininity, relationships, and being part of the LGBT community. The senior from Dover, Del., is the defending national champ in both indoor and outdoor shot put and told Out Sports’ Cyd Zeigler she identifies as “pansexual,” which Zeigler writes is “another color in the LGBT rainbow.”

“I want to prove to myself and others that you can be physically strong, succeed in a masculine sport, and still identify as feminine,” Hillman said. “What if I could get really good and I could be this out pansexual Olympian, that it can just be normal? That’s one of the things that drives me, to be able to be a role model for others.” You can read the full story online here.

3) Iowa State has raced out to an 11-0 lead in the 2014-2015 Iowa Corn crosscountryCy-Hawk Series after taking down the Hawkeyes, along with scores of other teams, at Friday’s NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships in Peoria, Ill. The No. 5 ISU women’s team won the regional title for the fifth year in a row, qualifying for the NCAA championships this Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. The men finished third, also ahead of Iowa. Follow the NCAA championships online at and the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series online at

4) ISU associate professor of history Amy Bix recently published the book Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Women in Engineering, and last week she talked to Iowa Public Radio’s Charity Nebbe about it. Listen to the interview and learn more about the book online.

5) And just because “what the heck,” here’s a sample of some social media snaps of last week’s SNOW in Ames, which started on Veterans Day and continued into the weekend:


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

cyclonecity1) The Leadership Ames Class XXVII has announced that it will auction off five of the 30 CyclONE City statues during the Ames Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Dec. 4 at the ISU Alumni Center. The five statues are: eCy, Cy-House Rock!, Cyclone Classic, Farmer Cy, and Dia de los Ciclones. The auction, which will begin at 6:45 p.m., is open to the public. Find out more about the auction at

CyclONE City, a “tour” of 30 life-sized Cy statues, is a fundraising project to support three local Ames charities and a scholarship for Iowa State University. The statues were publicly revealed on Saturday, Aug. 30 and are on display around Ames until Dec. 5

liasson2) NPR’s Mara Liasson is visiting campus this week as ISU’s 26th Mary Louise Smith Chair for Women and Politics. Her lecture, sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, is entitled “What Just Happened? The 2014 Elections and Beyond” and is, obviously, an analysis of the 2014 midterm elections and their potential future implications. The lecture is free and open to the public on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room.


3) Do you Instagram? We at the ISU Alumni Association are just getting started. Follow us at @isualum to see some behind-the-scenes views of campus, ISUAA events and programs, and daily life at the ISU Alumni Center. Last week our Instagram followers got a look at the first-ever inflation of our new mini inflatable Cy (though he’s still bigger than real Cy).


4) Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so ISU will carry out an annual tradition by honoring fallen soldiers at its Gold Star Hall Ceremony. Five Iowa Staters will be honored at tomorrow’s 3:15 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public — including three new names that have been added to the Memorial Union tribute as part of the university’s ongoing efforts to identify all Iowa Staters who have perished in conflicts throughout history. Gold Star Hall was started in 1928, when 117 names of Iowa Staters who died in World War I were engraved into the walls of the MU’s north entrance. Names from other conflicts were added in 1984, and the hall is now an ongoing tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.

banana-pudding5) November is national Banana Pudding Lovers Month, so here’s an ISU Extension banana pudding parfait recipe that’s quick and easy to make with your kids.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

clark_wesley1) Retired four-star Gen. Wesley Clark is scheduled to speak on campus this Wednesday. Clark will present “Don’t Wait for the Next War” — based on his latest book about his vision for the future of American global leadership — at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall as the keynote lecture in ISU’s World Affairs Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.

2) With Election Day a week away, most Iowans can probably agree that they’re growing weary of the nonstop campaign ads in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Bruce Braley (’80 political science) and Republican Joni Ernst (’92 psychology). But students in Kelly Winfrey’s ISU campaign rhetoric class may have a new appreciation for what goes into campaigning after participating in a recent mock campaign. Winfrey designed the project to give students a unique glimpse into the campaign process. “I think they develop a better understanding of why and how campaign decisions are made in the real world,” Winfrey told ISU News Service. “Even though it’s a mock campaign, they have to think strategically about what they want to say, how they’re going to say it, and how the opponent might use what they say against them. Candidates have to be strategic in their messaging if they’re going to win an election. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what a candidate might achieve in office if [he or she] loses.”

Read more about the mock campaign in an ISU News Service article.

3) The Iowa State cross country teams are headed to Lawrence, Kansas this weekend for the Big 2014_10_24nelson12 Championship. Will the women’s team four-peat as league champs? Yes, if junior Crystal Nelson has anything to say about it. The Winchester, Virginia, native was named the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national athlete of the week Oct. 20 after she closed out the regular season by winning the prestigious Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin (teammate Katie Moen placed fifth, which is no small achievement, either). Nelson now sits at No. 3 and Moen at No. 11 in the national Saucony FloRankings.

4) When is it too early to talk March Madness? The answer is: It’s never too early to talk March Madness. Don’t be silly. FOX Sports’ Reid Forgrave jumped into the March Madness talk headfirst last week when he released his “way too early” men’s basketball Final Four picks. And he has included Iowa State in his Final Four, noting: “This, I believe, should be Hoiberg’s year.” Funny, since the Big 12 coaches recently voted the Cyclones fifth in their preseason poll. But whatcha gonna do? We’ll quote Taylor Swift, but maybe not the Big Ten mascot version.

5) It’s Halloween week! When you come down from your sugar high, be sure to stop by Morrill Hall Thursday night to hear “Ghost Stories of Iowa State.” And save us some mini Snickers, please.

Campustown Reborn


Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Steve Sullivan. Photos by Jim Heemstra

When the state of Iowa prohibited smoking in bars and restaurants in 2008, the crew at Welch Avenue Station took action.

They removed everything from the walls of the longtime Campustown oasis. The neon beer signs. The music posters. The Iowa State memorabilia. All of it. After years of nicotine were scrubbed away, the walls were repainted as close to the same color as they had been for as long as anyone could remember. Then the Welch Avenue gang put everything back on the walls, hanging each sign and picture exactly where it had been, even using the exact same nail holes.

“Alumni come back to town and come in and say the place hasn’t changed a bit,” says Mike Adams, Welch Avenue bar manager since 1996. “It has, but it feels the same.”

This bit of tavern lore offers an apt metaphor for the challenge now facing Campustown: How to hold tight to the district’s diverse character, while embracing the opportunities presented by significant change.

And significant change is most definitely coming to Iowa State’s Campustown.


A Campustown renaissance
Kim Hanna, director of the Campustown Action Association (CAA), does not hesitate to use the “r” word when talking about what’s happening in the nine-block district that for more than 100 years has been a hang-out for Iowa State students, staff, and alumni drawn to the bars, restaurants, hair salons, T-shirt shops, book stores, movie theaters, tattoo parlors, and much more.

“We’re seeing the biggest wave of investment in Campustown by the city and university in years,” she says. “This is the renaissance of Campustown.”

This so-called renaissance is driven primarily by Kingland Systems, a software and data-management company started in the ISU Research Park by founder David Kingland (L)(’80 industrial administration). The company moved to the old Ames Theater space on Lincoln Way in 2004, tightening the bond with its biggest pool of employees: Iowa State students.

The old theater was one of nine buildings on the 2400 block of Lincoln Way owned for decades by the Champlin family of Ames. Kingland purchased all nine in 2012, launching a redevelopment project that will alter the landscape of Campustown, and quite possibly the very personality of the district.

“We are excited about this being our permanent home in Ames,” says Todd Rognes (A)(’85 accounting), Kingland president. “We believe this area can attract college students and professionals alike, and we hope our project demonstrates that Campustown is an area for the entire community.”

Birth of a district
The late A.L. Champlin is considered by many to be the father of Campustown. In 1908, he built the area’s first brick building at the corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue. It was the entry point to what would eventually become today’s Campustown. During its long history, the building housed a grocery store, a drug store, a dance hall (in the years before Memorial Union), and various eating and drinking establishments, including People’s Bar and Grill, which energized Iowa State’s live music scene in the 1990s.

Over the years, Champlin built more structures along the 2400 block of Lincoln Way, including the Ames Theater. Champlin constructed it in 1919 after the city lifted a ban on theaters near campus.

The 2400 block itself has hosted the occasional residence and a variety of businesses, including the Varsity Theater, Student Supply Store, and the Maji Jewelry Store. The strip has also been home at one time or another to long-defunct restaurants with names like Cyclone Lunch, College Inn, Mother’s Kitchen, L-Way Café, Baxter’s Bar and Grill, and Serpico Pizza.

The Champlin buildings are now gone, demolished in May 2014 to make way for the Kingland project, which Rognes hopes will provide “a positive lift in attitude and appearance to Campustown.”

A retail tenant, CVS/pharmacy, will occupy a portion of the new three-story structure going up at the corner of Lincoln and Welch. Kingland plans to use about

a third of the remaining new space for its growing business. Iowa State also has plans to use a significant amount of the new space for staff offices. The entire ground level will be available to retail tenants.

Kingland expects to eventually have more than 300 employees working in Campustown. Rognes acknowledges that some may view the project as an office space takeover of the district. But, he points out, the project also “actually increases the amount of retail space from its previous state. We engaged with many parties as we designed our project, including the city, CAA, the Champlin family, and Iowa State to design a project that will draw people to Campustown for a multitude of reasons. This project can support Campustown in becoming a district that is well-rounded and full of a variety of offerings.”

Lynn Lloyd, the granddaughter of A.L. Champlin and former co-owner of the Lincoln Way buildings, knows all too well the toll that business turnovers, upkeep of aging buildings, and competition from other areas of the city have taken on Campustown.

“We had 17 bars at one time,” she says. “There’s no way that many bars can make it now.”

While the brick-and-mortar buildings represented a wealth of Champlin family history, Lloyd feels as exhilarated as she does bittersweet about their demise.

“I hope new and interesting and exciting things happen for the students, and that this also inspires other parts of Campustown to develop,” she says. “My grandfather would be happy to see all this. He didn’t believe in sentimentality.”

A neighborhood
Campustown has been going through a gradual transformation for several years, spurred by increasing Iowa State enrollment.

There are 20 apartment buildings with 501 units in the district as of June 1, 2014. More than half of those units were built in the last decade. Many of the new buildings feature retail space.

More housing is on the way. In May 2014, Campus Book Store, at the corner of Lynn Avenue and Lincoln Way and directly across from campus, was demolished to make room for The Foundry, a six-story structure with 53 rental units and groundlevel retail space. It is slated to be completed in August 2015.

Just up the street, a small building that most recently housed a coffee shop (Lorry’s, which has since moved to West Street where it shares space with Mother’s Pub, which was once home to Boheme Bistro and before that the gone-but-fondly remembered Dugan’s Deli) was torn down. A bank building next to it also was razed. The site will now be home to 23 Twenty Lincoln, a 320-bed student housing complex. 23 Twenty will also have retail space, as well as the kind of amenities that get the HGTV crowd oohing and aahing: granite counter tops, walk-in closets, enclosed courtyard with a hammock garden, fire pit, and outdoor barbecue kitchen. Oh, and there’s also a coffee bar and fitness center with a tanning room.

On Chamberlain Street, just off Welch Avenue, yet another building offering eight units with 40 bedrooms, as well as retail space, is going up.

Guarded optimism
The Campustown student housing boom has, at least to this point, had little impact on the retail environment of Campustown. While a few new establishments have popped up, the district remains a collection of primarily locally grown businesses housed in aging buildings that are owned by a mix of area and long-distance landlords. With all the new retail space coming, the CAA has a long wish list for the district: a grocery store, an 80-seat restaurant, and a combination performance and cinema space.

“Campustown has thousands of students and hundreds of residents, but we are missing so many services,” Hanna says. “We want regional and national chains moving into the district, but we also want a mix of local businesses and chains to keep our diversity alive.”

Diversity is a huge component of the Campustown personality, and one that many fear will be diminished. A bright and shiny 2400 block of Campustown facing Lincoln Way runs the risk of making the 2500 block look like an ugly cousin. (The city has recently made grant money available for façade renovation.) With its row of older buildings, each with its own distinct curb appeal, housing ethnic eateries, a comic book store, a tanning salon, and more than one hairstyling establishment, the block arguably has more of a “lived-in” look that you might expect from a campus town.

“They are missing the whole point of Campustown if they are going to tear it down and give it a facelift,” says Rob Josephson, who opened Mayhem comic book store in 1990. “Looks are one thing, but it’s the businesses that draw people. Who wants to come to a campus town that’s all office space?”

“We’re happy to see a fresh look coming to Campustown. The rundown look can chase people away,” says Welch Avenue’s Adams. “But I’d hate to see the character of the place go. You need more than apartment buildings and big box stores.”


Matthew Goodman (’96 chemistry, MS ’00), both a Campustown restaurateur and a member of Ames City Council, hopes “we can maintain the incredible diversity of ownership and incubator nature of Campustown. I think we have more foreign-owned restaurants per square foot than any place in Iowa. If our choices destroy the unique cultural fabric, then we’ve failed. It’s going to take vision and courage to maintain this. It’s the only district like this in town. This is it. If you gussy it up too much to the point of it being sterile you’ve really lost something.”

All anyone can do right now is wait and see what the impact of the new developments will be. In the meantime, contractors and cranes will be busy along Lincoln Way. Visitors to the district will continue to stop by Stomping Grounds for a latte, University Barbers for a trim, and Mayhem for the latest installment of “The Avengers.”

But there’s no avoiding this fact: The Champlin buildings are history, and in Campustown, a new era is has begun.

Ames freelancer Steve Sullivan counts a Dugan’s Deli T-shirt among his most cherished possessions.

Career Minute

Think You Chose the Wrong Career?
Do you have a sinking feeling that after years of college and working in a specific industry you may have gotten it all wrong? Read this article from Brazen Careerist to find out some tips to help you transition to the career you love.

Archived Webinars
We have several archived career-related webinars that you can watch at any time. The topics range from emotional intelligence to why you might be sabotaging your job search. Click here to watch and keep checking back as more archived webinars will be added.

Catching up: With our former feathered friends


Young Alumni News recently caught up with some young alumni who have a very special thing in common: They were members of the mascot squad during their college years. Read on to find out more about their Cy experiences in honor of the big guy’s big 6-0 this Homecoming. This article was originally published Oct. 1 in the October issue of Young Alumni News, a bimonthly publication of the ISU Young Alumni Council.

Noelle Lichty
lichty_blog1Noelle Lichty (’11 marketing and management) is an assistant manager with Hy-Vee Food Stores in West Des Moines, Iowa who performed as Cy from 2008-2011.

YAN: What initially inspired you decide to try out for the mascot squad?
NL: I have been I huge Cyclone fan my whole life. I grew up traveling to Ames from my hometown Sioux City to attend many Cyclone events. Many of my family members are graduates and now supporters of the Cyclones. My freshman year I was attending a men’s basketball game cheering in Cyclone Alley. I was watching Cy work the crowd. I thought I had enough school spirit and what it takes to be Cy. I jokingly told my friends I wanted to Cy. With a few loudmouths in my friend group, word got around that I was interested. A few weeks later I tried out and made the squad!

What was the most challenging part of being Cy?
The most challenging part of being Cy is that it’s hard work. You start sweating the minute the suit goes on until the minute the suit comes off. People sometimes forget that there is a person inside the suit. Your body definitely takes a beating.

What was your favorite moment(s) as Cy?
It’s hard to name my favorite memory as there are so many. To name a few: traveling with the football team to Texas and being a part of the upset. I will never forget watching all the Texas cheerleaders and dance team members cry after we defeated them. Also, Cy is stored in two massive red bags. When I would carry them from appearance to appearance people would always look at me like I was crazy. I would never disclose I was carrying Cy around but say I had two dead bodies. People really didn’t know what to think.

Did things ever not go as planned while you were in the suit?
When I was Cy Craig Brackins was our big basketball star. The night before the ISU vs. Kansas game at Hilton Coliseum, my friends dared me to chest-bump him during the game. They thought I would never do it. Before the game started the starting players names are called as they come off the bench and the sold out crowd all on there feet cheering as loud as possible. Craig Brackins was always the first name announced. I positioned myself at the end of the player tunnel so I would be the last person Craig met to give a high-five. However, he was not going to receive a high-five from me. His name was called as he made his way down the tunnel toward me. I was in prime chest-bumping position. He reached me and started to leap in the air. I also leaped; however, my leap was not nearly as high as his. Craig’s vertical jump was a tick higher than mine, to say the least. I went up and came back down as he continued to go up. Our timing was off and as I landed on the ground I felt my bird head slip away up over my head. The hot stuffy confined space was no more as fresh air hit my head and light shined in the eyes. The bird head was not on my head. I’m the center of attention of over 14,000 fans in a giant bird suit with no head on. My cover was blown. Everyone saw who was inside one of most popular figures on campus.

The crowd went silent. Craig Brackins finally lands from his leap and, in shock, says “Holy shit! Cy’s a girl.” As I look frantically for the Cy head, it is nowhere in sight. The head had flown across the floor of Hilton Coliseum. I run across the floor to retrieve my costume’s giant red bird head. I quickly put it back on my head and wonder what just happened. Craig comes up to me as I continue to digest the situation. He asked me if I was OK. I stayed on the floor for the rest of pre-game with a detached head. I tried to act as nothing had happened. The minute the game began, I ran to our changing room. The other members of the Cy squad ran after me. In shock of what happened, they calmed me down. All of Hilton Coliseum just saw me, a female, in the masculine mascot suit. My performance throughout the game was extremely awkward because the mascot everyone believed to be a male was in fact a female. I was known around campus and amongst Cyclone fans as the mysterious female Cy. It opened people’s eyes that Cy can be a woman. Women can put on a large suit and act like an idiot for other people’s entertainment. In that game against Kansas, Craig Brackins scored a record number points — 42. The paper’s headline read “Brackins opens Eyes,” with the first sentence mentioning how he knocked off the female mascot’s big red head. I was pictured right underneath.

What was your favorite part of performing?
The best part of being Cy was being able to do whatever you wanted to do. The more crazy and obnoxious, the better. You were always the center of attention.

Photos courtesy Noelle Lichty.

zelle_blog2Ben Zelle
Ben Zelle (’14 ag business and management information systems) is a marketing representative for Deere & Co. who was a member of the ISU mascot squad from December 2011 until he graduated in May 2014.

YAN: What initially inspired you decide to try out for the mascot squad?

BZ: Growing up a Cyclone fan and having loved Cy as a kid, it seemed like a great opportunity to give back and support the Cyclones. I had mascotted once in high school, then served a few years as Iowa Corn Association’s mascot, Captain Corn. The try-outs were posted right before Thanksgiving break, and I was encouraged by a friend to try out. Right after Thanksgiving break, the try-outs were in the indoor football practice field. I figured, “I’ll at least get to try the suit on and say that I did it.” Well, the rest is history.

What was the most challenging part of being Cy?
The physical demands of the mascot suit. Although you adjust to it over time, it is taxing on your body to subject yourself to 30-degree increases in air temperature that could push inside suit temps to easily over 100 degrees. It is also a high-energy demand to provide a consistent experience to fans at every event. No matter if it is your first or 1,000th picture where the camera operator does not have the camera ready (<-please have your camera ready!), there is a need to provide that same Cy experience, so that every Cyclone to come has the same love for our mascot.

What was your favorite moment(s) as Cy?
I have two: National Cheer Association (NCA) Mascot Competition in Daytona Beach, Florida and winning the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. In 2013, Iowa State participated in NCA nationals for what we believe was the first time in the mascot competition. While we didn’t take home first place, it was a great adventure putting a skit together and then having the opportunity to preform on the Beach Bandshell Stage. Supporting the Iowa State men’s basketball team through the 2014 Big 12 tournament championship was a memorable experience. Cheering from the sidelines as our team showed its true colors and #cycLONEnation came out in full force to support was amazing. I’ll never forget that moment and being on the court while they cut down the nets!

Did things ever not go as planned while you were in the suit?
During basketball season, I was working the crowd at a men’s game during the pregame warm-ups. There was a family that had courtside seats with a young boy. I came onto the floor to give him a high five when he dropped his hot cocoa onto the sidelines. Yikes! I went immediately into ‘customer experience’ mode and ran to the bathroom and got paper towels then into the maintenance room to get a towel with cleaner spray bottle. I ran back (which is difficult with Cy’s big feet) and began cleaning the spill. After getting the floor shined up, I knew there was an opportunity to really change this experience around for the young Cyclone fan. I looked up at the clock to see 15 minutes till tip, then took off up the stairs to the concourse. I grabbed a Hilton staffer on my way and went around to the stand that sold hot cocoa. I then attempted to explain the story and order the drink using all non verbals. (Try that the next time you are ordering something beyond a Clone Cone!) We finally got it worked out, and I carefully walked back down to the court to deliver the drink to the young boy, who had a renewed love for Iowa State’s mascot. While I was exhausted before the players were even announced, it was an awesome example of the impact Cy can have — even when things don’t go as planned.

What was your favorite part of performing?
Making a memorable experience for fans. There is often the opportunity to make or break a fan’s experience. There is literally a few split seconds to make a child cry or love mascots, and we get that experience almost any time we suit up. Making a memorable experience for them like I had growing up is what kept my passion during my tenure as a mascot.

Photos courtesy Ben Zelle.

Zane Brugenhemke
Zane Brugenhemke (’12 athletic training) is a graduate assistant working with the football program at the University of Akron. He suited up as Cy from April 2008-Fall 2012.

YAN: What initially inspired you decide to try out for the mascot squad?

ZB: My love for Iowa State Athletics and the chance to be more than just your average fan.

What was the most challenging part of being Cy?
Toeing the line, I would say. Every game, it seemed we had people complain that Cy did something they didn’t think was appropriate. But honestly, that is kind of Cy’s persona! Cy isn’t always a nice a friendly mascot; he is a bit of a prankster and sort of likes causing a bit of mischief. Some people didn’t always like it, but I found the vast majority always had a laugh if Cy was stealing their purse for a few minutes or stealing their nachos!

What was your favorite moment as Cy?
Winning the Capital One competition in 2008 and being able to go out to L.A. to shoot the commercial.

Did things ever not go as planned while you were in the suit? We know you were involved in an incident at the ISU vs. UConn football game in 2011 where you were injured while falling in the opponents’ student section. The incident was covered by media such as and the ESPN Big 12 football blog, where David Ubben described the situation as an “ugly incident.” Describe the event.
That event has been a very big part of my life. Even now, working here at the University of Akron, people ask me about my scars on my arm and can’t believe the story I tell them. The blunt and honest truth is very far from the story that the press like and David Ubben heard. The UConn press release was really a bunch of frustrating lies. Here is the story as short as I can make it.

ISU had scored and I was in the corner end zone that also had our fans in it. After James White scored the TD, I looked up and saw a UConn fan heckling our fans. I had encountered this before as a mascot, and it is fun to play with opposing fans. I saw this and decided to run up the stairs to where he was standing. At the top of these stairs there was no guard rail on one of the ends. I DID NOT KNOW THIS BEFORE CLIMBING THE STAIRS. I then started shaking my finger just to be playful with the UConn fan and trying to tell him to be nice to us! I then tried to climb over the small guardrail into the stands and I must have placed a hand on him and he didn’t like. So he decided to punch Cy in the face and then push me the rest of the way off the ledge that didn’t have a guard rail. I DID NOT FALL DOWN THE STAIRS ON MY OWN. I WAS PUSHED. I wasn’t in the UConn student section as the UConn press release stated.

I knew right away my arm was broken. I was then taken to the medical room and, in the middle of removing the suit, a UConn policeman burst in asking if I wanted to press charges. I said yes, but I was very busy right now dealing with an arm that was broken in three places and I would talk to them later. I was never contacted by UConn police again, and they conducted the rest of the investigation without ever talking to me.

The rest gets boring and just involves me having surgery the following Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska by Dr. Crabb and his incredible staff. Two plates and 13 screws later I am doing just fine and have a hell of a story to tell.

How has that night changed your perception of mascotting or athletics fan bases in general?
It hasn’t. I will say that I almost hate UConn as much as the Hawkeyes, but I still work in college athletics and see a new fanbase every week. It is all part of being a fan, and that one UConn fan can’t be a representation of fans across America. My assumption is that he was drunk and made some poor decisions, and I honestly probably should have never gone up those stairs in the first place.

What was your favorite part of performing?
The OSU (football) game (in 2011) had to be the greatest moment of my life thus far, and the fact I got to be Cy for that game will be something I always remember.

My first two years and the squad we had with Brent Behrens, Noelle Lichty, and John Shroyer were some of the best of my life. Those guys were some of my best friends, and I have so many fond memories of having some great times with them on and off the field. I really do miss it, even though I thought I wouldn’t after doing it for almost five years. Every time I see Cy now, I am always watching to see how good [he or she is]. Cy is truly one of the best things about ISU, and I am so proud I got to be a small part of his history. Cy truly made my college experience a great one… broken bones and all!

James Ortiz
James Ortiz (’11 chemical engineering) was only a part of the mascot squad for one season (summer-fall 2010), but, he says, “I did have a blast doing it!”

YAN: What initially inspired you decide to try out for the mascot squad?
JO: My cousin was the mascot at Oral Roberts University, “Eli”, the Golden Eagle… Was hoping ISU and ORU would meet someday…

What was the most challenging part of being Cy?
Trying to keep mascotting fresh. I was always trying to think of different things I could do that would entertain fans/little kids, without being too repetitive. Also, pesky kids pulling my tail was challenging.

What was your favorite moment as Cy?
Crowd-surfing up the student section.

Did things ever not go as planned while you were in the suit?
Once I wore a bandana that would come loose during pictures and walking around the tailgates before the game. It’s tough getting around in the suit when you’re blind!

What was your favorite part of performing?
I really liked feeling like I was an important part of the gameday experience: Messing around with kids, taking pictures with fans at the tailgates, and giving the football players high fives after the games. It was a lot of fun! I only wish that I would have gotten involved earlier in my college career! It really was a blast.