Nobody may love Scarlett more than Rhett, but nobody loves Rhett more than BU. Everybody at BU knows Rhett. Or, at least they think they do. The Quad spoke with one of the anonymous students behind Rhett’s costume. This Rhett retired at the beginning of the semester, but he hinted that he might make a return next year.
The Quad: Could you describe what you did as Rhett? What was your job description?
Rhett: What I usually say is, your goal is to spread BU pride, represent your school as your its mascot, and have as much energy as possible at athletics events, events off campus, events on campus, and pretty much anywhere that wants to have that taste of BU.
Q: Are you the only Rhett or are there multiple?
R: No, there are quite a few of us.
Q: Is there a difference between individual Rhetts? Does each performer have his or her individual style or personality?
R: We’ve tried to have things that Rhett will do in general, but oftentimes yes, different people will have different things that they do. Everybody just has their own style of what Rhett’s supposed to be.
Q: So what is Rhett supposed to be for you?
R: For me, Rhett is exciting—he’s excited about BU. For me, he loves interacting with the band and he loves interacting with the fans…and the kids too. He loves the kids.
Q: So do you have any special moves or…?
R: Sometimes I do enjoy taking things from people and playing with them, like I’ll take somebody’s hat and wear it. Random dancing with the band…conducting the band, that’s always classic.
Q: Do you practice your dance moves at home?
R: I actually did over the summer, because I was never really introduced to things like the Dougie. So I spent some time over the summer practicing the Dougie, Party Rock Shuffle, and, uh, some Gangnam Style—just in case those things happen, which, you know, they do sometimes.
Q: Do you travel to other schools with the teams when they play?
R: I did get to travel with the Women’s Hockey Team to the Hockey East Championship last year. I’ve traveled to some other non-athletics events around Boston, but that’s probably the biggest one I’ve ever traveled on. Other people have gone out to further away places, but not me.
Q: So how does Rhett travel?
R: I went with the band.
Q: Do you wear the costume the whole time?
R: No. It’s in a bag. Rhett has a nice little home he can sleep in underneath the bus.
Q: So what’s it like when you’re not at BU?
R: It’s different, because when you’re here at BU it’s always like, “Okay, I know where I’m going, I know what I’m doing,” but when you’re somewhere else things aren’t always in the place the way you would expect. So people are like, “Oh…yeah, I guess you can go in here.” Like for the Hockey East Championship I was changing in the coach’s office. And oftentimes when that happens there may not be someone to walk around with you, and sometimes the environment is just different. You might not find people that are really excited about Rhett because they might be for the other team, you know?
Q: Any antagonism? Have you ever gotten booed?
R: No. More often than that just ignored. Usually it’s the little kids who get into it, especially if they’re fans of the other team, for whatever reason. Although I will say [at the Hockey East Championship], there was a solid contingent of teams who were rooting for Providence, and when we made the amazing comeback at the end they were all over me. They were just like, “We love you Rhett!” It was like I just converted those children to BU fandom.
Q: So what’s the relationship between you and BU students? Either in a sports environment or if you’re on the street? Are there ever times where people approach you spontaneously when you’re in costume?
R: Oh yeah. I mean, all the time. A lot of the students, yeah, they’ve seen Rhett, they know who he is. But everybody loves taking photos with Rhett, especially the student sections. I’ve done some stuff with orientation, and that’s always different too because you know, it’s the first time [incoming students] have seen Rhett so they’re always some people who aren’t sure how you interact with Rhett and other people go right up to Rhett like, “Can I get your picture? Give me a high five!” Faculty—and some of the people who work in the GSU—they always get really excited around Rhett, too. Like the administration, they love Rhett.
Q: When people come up to you and say they love Rhett, do you feel a personal connection with them?
R: Yeah, I would say so. For me, as somebody who loves BU so much, it’s hard to not love people who love BU and love BU’s spirit. So, you know, this is really awesome. I’m glad that people are sharing their love for BU and I do whatever I can to make sure they keep that image in their head.
Q: Have you ever been moved or touched by any encounter? Anything that sticks out in your mind as making the job really “worth it”?
R: Um, I mean probably when I mentioned [the Hockey East Championship], that day. Because quite literally the kids were like “Oh, it’s Rhett.” They’d play with my tail or something. “Oh, it’s Rhett. We’re rooting for Providence.” And then all of a sudden they’re on top of you, like cheering and jumping up and down, and literally on top of you. That’s something totally different, they were just so excited. That was kinda cool, especially for me.
Q: On the other side of that, what are fans interacting with when they’re interacting with you? Because they’re not high-fiving you.
R: I think it depends on who the fans are, because so many people do know that I have been Rhett. There are cases where people will know who they’re interacting with inside the suit. But, you know, for a lot of people they don’t really want to know that or they don’t know and they really don’t care to know, either. So, a lot of them, they know that somebody’s in there, but they also want to interact with Rhett because it’s Rhett.
Q: So then, what do you love so much about BU and what about that is mediated through Rhett to other people?
R: When I first came to BU—with admissions—it always stuck out as the place that really was probably going to be my home. I mean, I applied early decision, I always knew I wanted to go here. And now that I’m here it feels so right. The people that are here, they have the same energy as me. They’re so nice. Everything about it is great. That first time I went to a BU athletics event, I went to the Terrier Tailgate, and that was intimidating because I didn’t know anybody. But eventually I met people and I went to a hockey game with them. And that, getting into that fan environment is so—it’s addicting when you’re in a student section, cheering loudly and supporting your team. The teams love it, they recognize it so much. The women’s ice hockey team, when people are there, they are so excited because that just doesn’t happen for them sometimes. So to be there, to encourage that, and to spread that around people and get them excited about BU the way I’m excited about BU.
Q: So you’re helping to build or strengthen a community that you identify with?
R: Yeah. It’s kind of hard, I think back before I came to BU and I didn’t really like hockey. I didn’t really understand it. Then I came to BU and I realized that it’s more than just people fighting. It’s not just about what’s happening on the ice. It’s what’s happening among friends in the audience too. And to be able to help people to get interested in that and to make friends and to do the same things that I did is always a nice thought to have.