EDINBURG — A crowd of freshmen students of various majors filled the bleachers and the center of the Fieldhouse for the live mascot reveal of the UTRGV Vaquero at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday afternoon.
This was the second of live mascot reveal showing for the Vaquero Roundup, with the first in Brownsville on Wednesday. UTRGV welcomed over 4,500 freshmen total to college life, with an official live mascot in a tangible costume showing off the design to the students, first in Brownsville and then at Edinburg campus.
The UTRGV Vaquero dons a scarf, hat, vest and boots while sporting university colors of orange, white and gray. Named for the Spanish word for cowboy, it is an embodiment of the cultural and historical aspects of the university and student population. UTRGV officials and students cheered the mascot as it made its way to the stage with cheerleaders performing flips, a pep band and confetti heightening the reveal.
Tony Forina, master of ceremonies for the event, facilitating the event with transitions between key speakers during the live mascot reveal. The drumline and pep band greeted the incoming college students as they filled the Fieldhouse.
Forina along with his son, who shares the same name, helped raise spirits in the crowd by launching free shirts to the crowd, issuing a call and response with the audience and cueing in the band to play vigorous music as students trickled in.
As universities across the state and nation resume classes for the fall semester, an incoming freshman class offered an opportunity to show off the new design and instill pride.
The university was formed in 2013 by the state legislature, and officially opened with the merging of the legacy campuses in Edinburg and Brownsville in 2015. The class of 2023 will be the first to have a live mascot for all of their undergraduate years.
University officials revealed the design of the UTRGV Vaquero mascot in an event in June. There was input from faculty, staff and students for the mascot since 2015, according to a news release. This design or look of the costume was created by and voted for by UTRGV students.
“We really want this mascot to embody school spirit,” Cindy Mata, director of UTRGV Student Activities said in a news release. “It has strong ties to our Valley legacies, too — some pieces the mascot will be wearing link back to our legacies. Everything that was chosen and designed by students ties back into the region.”
This mascot will serve as a university ambassador and entertainer at campus and off-campus events, according to the news release.
Forina also introduced key figures in the university including Maggie Hinojosa, vice president for strategic enrollment, and men’s basketball head coach Lew Hill. UTRGV President Guy Bailey, who was not able to attend the event.