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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Q&A with the women’s basketball Hawk mascot Asia Whittenberger

Whittenberger was formerly a soccer player at St. Joe’s. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Asia Whittenberger ’22 has been the women’s basketball team Hawk mascot since 2019. The Hawk sat down with Whittenberger to learn more about what it’s like to flap her wings each season and interact with the St. Joe’s community behind her hawk suit. 

How did you know you wanted to become the mascot? 

I played soccer here my freshman year, and I was on scholarship. I accumulated too many concussions since my freshman year of high school and it was just becoming too much on my physical and mental health. So I decided to retire and I qualified for medical exemption. That just meant I got to keep my scholarship but I still had to do 20 hours a week in athletics, so I was trying to find things to do around the department. I saw the Hawk walking across campus. I was like ‘oh my gosh, look it’s the Hawk and then Jack Jumper [said] the department was looking for another Hawk, and I [thought] ‘Okay that’d be fun to do.’

The Hawk suit is comprised of four parts: the pants, tail, feather jacket and the head.

What is the workout routine that you do in order to flap your arms for a whole game?

I really don’t have a workout routine. I do work out but not specifically my shoulders or my arms. It’s more so getting the rest that I need beforehand, because I’m expecting to be very tired and I want to make sure I can give my best whenever I flap. It’s also making sure I eat enough and drink enough water so that those things I don’t have to worry about when I’m flapping. 

What is one thing that most people don’t know about being the mascot?

I was reading up on the past articles written about the women’s Hawk [and] they all mentioned that [they] don’t get a scholarship. But something interesting now is that I get one, so we can update that terrible information that has existed for so long. [I] gained that scholarship starting my junior year, and that’s the first time the women’s [basketball team] Hawk has ever had it, which is super important to me because I want to make sure that the women’s program’s Hawk gets the same respect as the men’s program and the men’s Hawk. That scholarship being in place for the Hawk means the difference to so many people that apply and get this job. For some, it’s the only reason why they can stay at the school.

What’s your go to move that gets the crowd going during a game?

I love doing the Carlton dance. Sometimes the DJ will play ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song, and I just go crazy. They catch that on camera and they will send it out to ESPN or whoever the network is and people think it’s so funny.

Whittenberger flaps her wings at a St. Joe’s women’s basketball game against George Washington University.

During the season, how busy are you as the mascot?

I’ll just say it’s hectic, because you have to travel. You have to be at every home game, you also have to be at every away game, and you have the same traveling schedule as the athletes. So there’s a lot of time management involved with balancing schoolwork, balancing being the Hawk, balancing the things that I do now. I know it’s gonna be crazy this season.

How will it feel to have fans back cheering the team on? 

I’m so excited to have fans back. It’s so fun. First of all, it gets very repetitive and boring in a sense, just having to flap, and do everything the Hawk does without anybody there watching. Seeing how much fans love the Hawk and what the Hawk means to them especially to little girls who see my nail polish and realize I’m a girl, not a guy those are the little things that I appreciate the most. I keep my nails clean, and up to date because when these little girls see me, I put my nails out to them. I want them to freak out, and they have to know I’m just like them. It’s those little things.


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