Big Squirrel on Campus
Dash, the first official mascot in the history of Goshen College Athletics, shares thoughts on life, campus, and the wonderful Maple City
GG: In 2022, you were introduced as the first-ever official mascot at Goshen College. How does it feel every time you put on that jersey, and how difficult is it to find size 42 squirrel shoes?
Dash: Luckily, we’ve got custom shoemakers in the mascot world, and when I lace up those size 42’s I do so with pride and honor, because I absolutely love what I do. It’s a great responsibility to be the face of Goshen College Athletics. Every time I suit up I think of our students—and I think of all the colorful and furry unofficial mascots that preceded me. Then I go out and do my best to entertain our crowds, and positively—and, yes, sometimes wildly—encourage our teams to BE their best and DO their best.
GG: Aside from possibly having a chance to see you perform and demonstrate your skills, why is it a great idea for people to come out and support Goshen College Athletics?
Dash: We’ve got some talented student-athletes competing in our own backyard. Some are local, some are from the other side of the country, and some are from the other side of the world. Yet when they all arrive here in August, we’re all Maple Leafs. Showing support for Goshen College Athletics is another way for residents of Goshen to join together and support our wonderful Maple City. Plus, our athletic events are fun, family-friendly, exciting, and affordable. And you get to see ME!
GG: When it comes to sports, we all know the most important things are giving your best effort, showing good sportsmanship, and understanding the value of teamwork. Describe the Goshen College standard of sportsmanship:
Dash: GC Athletics has this motto—Live FULL—with FULL being an acronym for our core values of Faith, Unity, Learning, and Leadership. I see Faith, in action, every time our athletes put their God-given abilities, talents, and skills to use. I see Unity when GC student-athletes exhibit great sportsmanship with each other and with student-athletes from other schools. I see Learning when an athlete develops over time, and keeps improving and growing, and ultimately walks across the stage on graduation day. And I see Leadership when our student-athletes take on opportunities to be servant leaders in the community; from hosting a Trunk-or-Treat event to being involved with area groups like Greencroft, the Boys & Girls Club, and United Way. All of our students are champions of character in the classroom and in the community!
GG: Your family has roamed around campus for more than a half century. How do you manage those lofty expectations of being the first-ever official Goshen College mascot? What does Dash do to unwind?
Dash: The Notre Dame Leprechaun told me once that it’s best to just be yourself. I always remember that, and I just try to be the cheery, Goshen-loving squirrel that I was raised to be. After a gameday, I unwind by watching episodes of Gilmore Squirrels or listening to my favorite song, Squirrels Just Want To Have Fun. And then, over the summer, I’ll find time to get away to the college’s J.N. Roth Marine Biology Station in the Florida Keys before the students arrive again!
GG: Who do you look up to in the mascot world? Are your friends—or uncles and aunts—always trying to give you unsolicited mascoting advice?
Dash: Stu from the South Bend Cubs has been a mentor of mine. He comes from the mascot coaching tree of Clark the Cub from the Chicago Cubs. My family is very supportive, but my mom is always trying to clean my fur before I head out for games. It’s so embarrassing. I mean, come on, Mom—I’m almost one-and-a-half years old.
GG: You’ve mentioned that when you’re not cheering on a Goshen College squad, you like to spend a fair amount of time at the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center; what do you love about that facility?
Dash: I love how it transforms throughout the day. You get community members during the morning, teams practicing in the afternoon, and sometimes a home gameday at night. So many people pass through; athletes, coaches and staff, students, Goshen College employees, fans, and community members. So much dedication, determination, and teamwork takes place under that roof. I have other favorite spots on campus. I really love the trees around Schrock Plaza; and I’ll just level with you—mainly because it’s a sweet spot for acorns and walnuts. I also love to see our visitors at the Juanita Lark Welcome Center. That’s where so many students start their journey toward becoming a Maple Leaf, and that is a happy place!
GG: In your bio, your weight is listed as ‘more than your average squirrel’—and you’re known as something of a foodie. When you need something other than hickory nuts, what are some of the restaurants and eateries you love most in Goshen?
Dash: I LOVE peanut butter ice cream from The Chief. I got a bunch for the winter during their charity pint and tree sale. I can tell you that Goshen has plenty of great eateries downtown and throughout the city. I have my favorites—but I have very specific tastes. My best advice is to get out there and support Goshen eateries whenever you can and find your favorites!
GG: Obviously they can’t be throwing you treats all day long, but you’ve mentioned how supportive the students at Goshen College have been to you since your arrival in 2022. How would you describe the character and attributes of your average Goshen College student?
Dash: Goshen College students and student-athletes—and the faculty, too—are energetic, friendly, enthusiastic, clever and quick. Not as quick as me, but quick. We may be a small school, but we’re mighty. Now that I think about it, those are some of the words people use to describe me. No wonder we’re a perfect match!
GG: Any final words, Dash?
Dash: Yes, just this. GO GOSHEN GO!
Goshen College Athletics is committed to recruiting, training, and developing student-athlete leaders—and teams that are committed to athletic excellence—and is committed to providing opportunities for student-athletes to learn and develop as servant leaders through modeling, mentoring, and opportunities to lead. For all the exciting news, upcoming events, and stats and rosters for Goshen College Athletics, visit https://goleafs.net/.
Written by Jake Sandock
Photos courtesy of Goshen College
Original publish date Jan. 2024