Tagged: Awesome Eagle

CHS senior builds mascot skills to follow college dreams

Eighteen-year-old senior Tanner Stockton plans to study political science in college. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Eighteen-year-old senior Tanner Stockton plans to study political science in college. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Tanner Stockton, an 18-year-old senior at Clarkrange High School in Clarkrange, Tenn. has been the school’s mascot – Brutus the Buffalo – for the past two years.

Stockton said, “It’s definitely been a cool experience. You get to do something a lot of people can’t say they do. I mean it’s really an experience kind of like a big secret. You go into a room and come out as a whole new person.”

He also said that the student body has been very supportive of his role at sporting events. He laughed, “Before games people say, ‘Are you going to hop in the suit yet?’ I’m like, ‘Soon. I’ve got another three hours.’ They want me in in early so I can just go crazy.”

“U.S. News and World Report” identified CHS as a bronze-level high school in its annual Best High Schools list. The administration and faculty work diligently to increase academic rigor and encourage students to apply for universities. However, career options are not always obvious in this rural town.

Brutus the Buffalo (Tanner Stockton) helps the CHS cheerleaders on the sideline of the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 6.
Brutus the Buffalo (Tanner Stockton) helps the CHS cheerleaders on the sideline of the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 7. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Stockton, however, has been researching his future opportunities for some time as a mascot and as a former member of the JROTC program. He said, “I’m planning to major in political science, and then, from there I plan to go to OCS, which is officer training school, and do military law for the Air Force.”

Stockton participated in JROTC for three years and served as a commanding officer with the rank of Cadet Major during his junior year.

During the summer before his senior year, he made a difficult decision to not continue with JROTC.

Stockton said, “I arrived at that decision because I had my normal classes, and I had dual-enrollment classes, so I was taking college classes. And then on top of that we had the busy ballgame schedule, and then everything with JROTC junior year. It was too much to handle. I was exhausted. This year I just decided to take off. … And there’s some mascot scholarships out there which you can try out and make it. You can pretty much go anywhere from there. That’s what I’m hoping to do in college.”

He has attended several mascot camps through the Universal Cheerleaders Association, including one at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. Daniel Drake Fenlon, who is TTU’s Awesome Eagle mascot, was one of his instructors. Fenlon has also won the mascot national championship for the past two years.

Scouts from TTU and from Bryan College have attended CHS games to watch Stockton in action.

Stockton interacts with spectators during half time at the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 6.
Stockton interacts with spectators during half time at the CHS game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 7. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

In spite of Stockton’s ambitions to be a college mascot, he said that his job now is to support the cheerleaders and entertain the crowds. He takes pride in making people happy.

Stockton shared one of his favorite memories: “There was one ballgame we had at Jackson County. This little girl was crying all night because she saw me walking by. … And her mom was like, “Don’t be afraid,” so she brought the little girl [where I was standing], and she was hiding behind her mom’s legs. … I just sit down Indian style I just [do a hand gesture to come], and she comes over. And I high five her, and she high fives me back. Well, we start playing paddy cake right there while the ballgame is going on – completely missed the fourth period of the girls game. I’m just playing paddy cake with this girl, and she’s laughing and giggling and she’s starting to warm up. … I was really just focusing on getting that girl to calm her down – get her used to mascots.”

Stockton started a Facebook page for Brutus the Buffalo. He said, “It was originally just meant to inform people. Let them know the next game, the time, when to be there – also for pep club members.

“In two days, we went from having no friends to over 100, and then we had our [Fentress] county executive Mike Cross add us, so that was pretty cool to have him add us. Then I posted on there, ‘I hope to see you at our next game Mr. County Executive Mike Cross,’ and he liked it and commented, so that was pretty cool.”

Stockton’s mascot Facebook page now has 321 likes.