Although Lehigh was founded as an engineering college, as the university changed, so did the mascot.
In November 1995, the Engineers officially became the Mountain Hawks and never looked back. But it wasn’t until 2008 that the now-coveted fowl received his new name: Clutch.
In an effort to understand more about life under the feathers, The Brown and White caught up with two students, that asked to remain anonymous, who have been able to witness Lehigh’s games from a bird’s eye view.
Q: Why did you want to be Clutch?
Clutch #1: I became interested in the position when I saw a posting for an opening in one of the class Facebook groups. I thought it would be a fun way to be involved with the school community and add some spirit to school events.
Clutch #2: I thought it’d be fun to be out on the field and court wearing a large bird suit.
Q: What is the process of “becoming” Clutch?
Clutch #1: Because they were low on mascots at the time, I was able to simply reach out to the email contact posted on Facebook to express my interest. They needed a Clutch specifically for the freshman rally, so I told them I would be able to attend.
Clutch #2: I stumbled upon the right people and asked them how I could get the job.
Q: What events were you asked to attend?
Clutch #1: The first event I ever attended was the freshman orientation rally. It was a great time. From there, I did a few smaller events around campus, a couple football games and the family weekend barbecue and game.
Clutch #2: All of the big sporting events and some other important ceremonies and events.
Q: What is it like representing Lehigh University in such a unique way?
Clutch #1: Every event has a different feel, and you sort of have to determine what Clutch can add to the scene. It’s great seeing people, particularly kids, get excited to see you and get a sense of the pride that they have for Lehigh in that way. I had a lot of fun dancing with the cheerleaders for games and fooling around with people for pictures and events. I also got to give President (John) Simon a couple of high-fives and hugs, so that was a major bonus.
Clutch #2: It’s fun to know that you represent the school, even though you’re behind a mask.
Q: What is your favorite memory as Clutch?
Clutch #1: One of the events I attended was a tour for international students who were considering Lehigh for the following year. They had me wait upstairs in Hawk’s Nest. When the potential students arrived, it took a moment for them to realize I was there. Many of them didn’t have mascots where they came from, so they were quite freaked out when they saw Clutch. I could tell that many of them didn’t know what was going on, and some even looked terrified. One student was so scared that, when he jumped backwards, he fell completely to the ground. I offered a wing to his hand as the tour guide explained the concept of mascots, and I’ll never forget the look he gave me as I helped him up. His eyes were wide and, although he was still quite noticeably shaken, I watched as his petrified look began to soften into a wondrous gaze. At that moment, everything changed. They wanted more pictures than most Americans do. Even the most petrified students insisted on getting pictures with me. It was fun to be a part of that learning experience.
Clutch #2: Getting to high five, hug and take pictures with all of the Lehigh fans.
Q: What ways do you think Clutch has or can help improve the Lehigh experience?
Clutch #1: I think Clutch can help add some spirit to all sorts of events. He’s a symbol that helps unite students behind a collective feeling of pride for Lehigh. Clutch is a reminder that, no matter what school you’re in or what you’re involved with, you’re a member of the Lehigh student body. I also think that when alumni return to Lehigh, they see Clutch and remember the feeling of attending school events as a college student, and it’s nice to see the way that pride spreads throughout their family when their kids get excited for Clutch as well.
Clutch #2: I think Clutch will be able to improve the Lehigh experience by creating a fun environment for the students and fans on and off the field.