Chances are you’ve met Mickey Meehan before. You probably took a picture with him, hugged him or gave him a high-five. Or maybe he tussled your hair, played peek-a-boo with your child or pretended to steal your lunch.
If you don’t remember any of those moments, it’s not because your memory is failing you. For the last four years, Meehan entertained thousands at UCCS and in Colorado Springs as the performer behind Clyde, the campus mascot.
“Most people would say I have a quiet personality,” Meehan said, “so the suit gave me an opportunity to open up and express myself a little bit.”
Meehan worked hundreds of athletic games, admissions events and community festivals in his UCCS career. He balanced that with a near-perfect grade point average in criminal justice, an internship with UCCS Police and a student position in the Office of Financial Aid, Student Employment and Scholarships. In spring 2019, he was named the UCCS Student Employee of the Year.
Clyde’s uniform wasn’t that much different than the goalkeeper hockey equipment Meehan wore at Doherty High School. So after a four-hour basketball doubleheader at the Gallogly Events Center, even with small breaks throughout the night and special equipment to keep him cool, he could probably still wring out the amount of sweat that he lost during an appearance.
It’s a physical workout, even for a short appearance. But while it can be physically taxing, maintaining the personality is often more challenging.
“The hardest part is staying in character throughout a performance,” Meehan said. “There is a certain way you have to walk and act. The second you break from that, everyone notices and the magic is gone. It’s no longer Clyde but now someone in a Clyde costume.”
On Nov. 28, 2015, Meehan’s role as Clyde involved more than entertaining crowds. It was a day after Garrett Swasey had been killed responding to the Planned Parenthood shooting. As the university and community were grieving, a reporter from the Huffington Post captured Meehan, as Clyde, hugging a UCCS police officer after a moment of silence at the Gallogly Events Center.
“I remember going in there and asking our previous mascot and assistant athletic director how I’m supposed to work this basketball game,” Meehan said. “Mascots are supposed to be fun and entertaining, and we were dealing with a lot of emotion that day. You could feel it in the arena. After the pregame moment of silence, I stepped out into the lobby and saw one of our officers breaking down, and I reacted more as a human than a mascot.”
At commencement Friday, he’ll be remembering Swasey on his mortar board.
“Everything you hear about Swasey, and every story about him as a police officer, father and pastor, embodies what it means to be a person with character,” Meehan said. “He’s the ideal of being selfless and helping others. When you think of the ideal police officer, he embodies it.”
Meehan is working his way through interviews and tests to enroll in the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy, a career he chose before Office Swasey was killed. His long-term career plans are to be a homicide detective or to return to campus and work in a university police department.
“I believe in doing the right thing, and I really want to help people. I feel that this provides me the best opportunity for it,” Meehan said. “I would be there for those really bad moments, but there’s also the positive engagement with the community on a day-to-day basis and keeping people safe. It’s the idea of service to the community that I’ve been drawn to for a long time.”
Meehan will be one of more than 550 graduates participating in the 2019 fall commencement ceremony Dec. 20 at Broadmoor World Arena. A record-setting number of more than 1,000 students will be conferred degrees for the summer and fall terms during the 2 p.m. ceremony.