Athlete of the Week: Will D. Cat, The Man Behind the Mask

After years of hyping up Villanova students and competing at Nationals to only reach as high as second place, Will D. Cat can finally call himself a National Champion. 

Will D. Cat won the UCA Mascot National Championship. He traveled down to Florida with the rest of the Villanova Cheerleading team, which placed fifth in their division.

The position of Will D. Cat and any other mascot is highly secretive. Only a handful of people know who they are or what their recent achievements have been. As a senior, Will D. Cat makes serious sacrifices. 

“The hardest thing about keeping it a secret is when friends ask me to go to the game with them,” Will D. Cat said. “I can’t just tell them I’ll be there dressed in a giant cat costume. It can get tough at times, but it has become second nature as time has gone on.” 

However, these sacrifices paid off on Will’s trip to Florida. He and the team practiced non-stop while training for Nationals. 

“This was an intensive process that included designing a skit that was 90 seconds long, while building props to use,” Will said. “We worked on these props and our skit for nearly 12 hours a day in the seven days before the competition. It was difficult, but certainly worth it!”

Mascot Nationals is a complicated process, to say the least. The first step is a “video that showcases their character and the various activities he does.” This video will not only be what qualifies the mascot but will be half of the overall score.

“Our video obviously qualified us to compete in Nationals. However, we were ranked fourth of all submitted videos,” Will said. “...we knew that making the jump from fourth to first would be difficult, so we were focusing our efforts on simply improving our rank.” That he did, after the end of the 90-second skit, he pushed right up the ranks into first place and earning his first-ever National Championship.

The win, “took us all by surprise and is something that I will never forget,” Will said. “We obviously can’t tell people that we are National Champions, so much of the glory comes from the personal successes that we had along the journey.” Although only one Will D. Cat won the trophy, there were many other Will D. Cats who helped work for it, with hours and hours of preparation. Now they get to know that they are National Champions.

Will D. Cat’s journey to the National Championship started all the way back at the activities fair in 2016.

“Just like any other freshman, I was looking to get involved with something,” Will said. “This seemed like a great opportunity, since I was a huge basketball fan.” 

He tried out and “was sold” on all things Will D. Cat: the perks, the energy and the opportunities. 

There is a bit of a learning curve when you first start out as a mascot, learning how to hype up a crowd and how to act in different situations.

“My own experiences on the team have made me a tremendously better mascot than when I started,” Will said. “I feel that the same will be true for any new members on the team.”

Most importantly: the suit. How hot does it get in there? There is little to no ventilation, only a small screen in the mask. “The heat [inside the suit] does get miserable at times,” Will said. “But often hyping up crowds and interacting with fans overshadows the intense temperatures experienced.”

Sitting front row at Villanova sports games, hyping up crowds and winning a National Championship, Will D. Cat embodies an aphorism that Villanova prides itself on – Cattitude.