One of Butler’s great mysteries is, just who is bringing that eight-foot-tall “Hink” suit to life?
A beloved fixture at Butler’s many sporting and special events around campus, the costumed “Butler Bulldog” first appeared over 60 years ago. It was criminal activity that brought to light the need for a name change.
In summer 2008, the Butler Bulldog costume was stolen. In news reports that followed, readers worried that Butler Blue II, the live mascot, was the object of the theft. To avoid future confusion, a contest was held in which fans and the campus community could vote on a new name. On January 22, 2009, the contest-winning “Hink” was announced, as submitted by Chuck Schisla ’60 in honor of the famed coach Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle.
So, what is it like inside this larger-than-life local celebrity? Butler Magazine spoke with two of the students who have spent their college years helping Hink build school spirit and pride.
Senior Theatre major and Education minor Trevor Pletcher, now retired from the suit he’d worn since 2018, recalls his reasons for first trying out. “The theatre skills I had learned and hoped to strengthen in college—performance ability and the non-verbals—plus the opportunity to do something I enjoyed while supporting Butler” motivated him to answer the call-out notice.
Another student who answered the call-out is junior “Jordan Smith” (an alias, as the role calls for anonymity for all current Hinks). This is Smith’s third year in the suit, and is also a legacy mascot, with a sibling filling the role several years ago.
Smith describes the purpose of Hink as “bringing joy and happy energy.” Reactions, or perhaps overreactions, are the keys to success. “That’s what Hink does—he reacts. Emotions need to be readable by the audience.”
“When I’m in costume, I’m definitely over-the-top,” Smith says. “We all have our own styles. But I’m more dance heavy.”
The three to four students who share the role at one time typically attend about 25 events a year each.
It’s not easy work, however. It takes a lot of energy. “In a typical basketball game, I burn around 1,400 calories,” says Smith. Pletcher adds that the heat inside the costume can be a challenge. “You’re breathing a lot of the same air, and the stairs in Hinkle are not the easiest to navigate in size 20 shoes.”
But several breaks and plenty of water help offset the temperature inside the 15-pound suit. “When you take the helmet off, you can cool off pretty quickly,” Smith adds.
It’s all worth it, both students say. “When I go out there, I go to have fun and to entertain people and bring some joy. The community at Butler is always really cool to connect with,” Smith says.
And Pletcher adds, “Having that one-on-one, even in just split moments, is a great thing. There’s a different kind of magic in mascots.”