Mission training for spotlight as mascot

By Rhea Riley

Since Mission arrived at NIU, the husky mascot has been training with the ROTC to prepare for events.

NIU’s previous husky, Diesel, retired in November after nine years of appearances at sports games and events. The job was passed onto Mission, who was donated to the school by alumni John and Cassandra McKearn. Mission’s first appearance will be at a wrestling meet Feb. 25.

“He is doing very good,” said Sgt. Rufus Beamon, NIU senior military officer.

Beamon oversees the clubs within the ROTC program, including the club that handles Mission.

The club of handlers consists of two teams composed of six members. Members of the club must meet GPA and physical test score requirements in order to participate in the club.

“In training [the handlers] go over commands, reinforcing commands and working on tricks,” Beamon said.

The 2-year-old Siberian husky trains with his handlers once a week at Raven’s Husky Haven and Rescue, 27779 Five Points Road in Sycamore.

“He is adorable and full of energy,” said Aurora Walker, one of Mission’s ROTC handlers and a freshman nursing major.

Walker and Amanda Marks, ROTC handler and freshman nursing major, will attend events where Mission is requested. They said they are excited to represent the ROTC.

Every Wednesday, the handlers try to help Mission become more familiar with the club. They also play with him and teach him how to run, stand and sit. The handlers are also teaching Mission to perform a push-up routine.

The main trick Mission has been working on is a move to celebrate when the football team scores a touchdown.

“Diesel was known for his high five at every touchdown, so we are going to come up with something new for Mission,” Beamon said.

Beamon, Walker, Marks and the other handlers were scheduled to meet Wednesday with the Athletics Department to determine what Mission’s role as mascot will be. In that meeting they discussed the details and schedule for future events Mission should attend.

Some students and sports fans are also excited to have Mission attend games and events.

“If a student sees a school mascot it makes the audience get more pumped up for the game,” said freshman engineering major Elliot Williams. “It would be really cool to have Mission at a lot of sports and school-sponsored events this year.”