Behind the Beak: Toni Burns on her first year as the Eagle mascot

Sophmore Toni Burns discusses what it’s like to be unofficial leader of Tyrone’s “12th Man”

Behind the Mask: sophomore Toni Burns works the sidelines at every varsity football game as “The Eagle”

When the team heads to DuBois this Saturday for the state semifinal game, sophomore Toni Burns has an important responsibility: pumping up the crowd as the official Tyrone Golden Eagle Mascot.

Behind the mask Toni wears the big Tyrone “T” with pride, spreading school spirit up and down the sidelines.

I hug the kids, give them high fives and take pictures with them. It’s fun to feel like a celebrity at the games

— Tyrone eagle mascot Toni Burns

This is Burn’s first year as the high school mascot, and so far she is loving it.

Burns was inspired to tryout for the mascot by watching the previous mascot, 2013 graduate Kristian Cowher.

“I remember being in the 7th grade and watching Kristian do it,” said Burns. “He was really funny, and I thought that maybe I should try it because I’m pretty funny too.”

Anyone who knows Toni well understands why she is the perfect choice for the school mascot.

“Toni is a really fun person, she has so much enthusiasm,” said freshman Morgan Bridges, “Toni can pump up people in the hallway without a costume, with it on she is just awesome.”

Burns is required to attend every varsity football game, home or away, in her large orange eagle suit.  It is Burns’ job to pump up the cheerleaders and the crowd from the sidelines.

“I dance to the band’s songs with the cheerleaders and I shake my tail feather,” said Burns, “I interact with little kids, give them high fives, pose for pictures, maybe throw a few plastic footballs to the crowd.”

Burns says that her favorite part of being Tyrone’s mascot is seeing the kids reactions to her.

“When I walk by, the little kids always look in amazement.  They’ll yell ‘Oh there’s the Eagle!’,” Burns says, “I hug the kids, give them high fives and take pictures with them. It’s fun to feel like a celebrity at the games.”

Although Burns loves being mascot, the large, insulated suit does come with some drawbacks.

“My least favorite part about being mascot is sweating.  It can get really hot in there” said Burns, “The smell of the costume also. It doesn’t smell great!”

“People probably don’t realize  it, but being mascot is a workout,” added Burns, “Running around, jumping up and down and dancing is really tiring when you’re in an insulated suit that adds an extra 5 pounds! The head can give you a headache too after a while, but it’s something I’ve gotten used to.”

Burns is also required to go to special events with the cheerleaders, such as the Tyrone Hospital expansion announcement and the dedication of the Golden Eagle statue by TAHS’ Class of 1962.

“It was really cool to go to the statue dedication because the class of ’62 never had a mascot,” said Burns.

Burns is looking forward to the quarterfinal game in DuBois.

“I am very excited for the game! I told the boys that I might dye the tip of the eagle head blonde!” Burns joked.

Burns also gave advice to underclassmen who may consider being the mascot.

“Try to be funny,” she advises, “Don’t be afraid to socialize or interact with people! There are a surprising amount of people that will come up to you and talk to you and hug you!”

Be sure to look out for Toni the Tyrone Golden Eagle on the sidelines this Saturday in DuBois.