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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

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Chasing a dream


Timmy Parks reflects on his time as the Hawk mascot

We’ve all seen the Hawk running around campus or at a basketball game at some point during our Saint Joseph’s University career. However, it is rarely acknowledged that there is an actual person in that costume.  Most people do not know that senior Timmy Parks  proudly wears the mascot suit. The Hawk had a chance to talk with him about his time on the job.

Alex Hargrave: How long have you been the hawk mascot?

Timmy Parks: I took over as the Hawk at the end of my sophomore year. Brian Lafferty was a senior that year and I took over right around graduation, so it’s been two full years of being in the best position here on campus.

AH: What events do you participate in as the mascot on campus?

TP:  I’m with the basketball team every day, not only as the Hawk for games, but also as a manager for practice. I don’t think people know as much about the other events as I do; I do weddings for St. Joe’s alumni who are getting married. Through admissions I help out with the open houses and Admitted Students Day. One of the cooler things we’ve done was the red envelope deliveries with the hawk hosts to go to the kids’ houses. I basically  just do different events on campus where they need me. Charity events are big, like walks for Alzheimer’s and Autism at Citizens Bank Park. I’ll also be at the Philly Phanatic’s birthday party, which I’m looking forward to.

AH: Can you explain the process of auditioning to be the Hawk?

TP: They [SJU Athletics] want you to submit an essay about why you want to do it and what you think it represents. You also need a letter of recommendation from a staff member and to submit your resume. Once you do that, you submit it to the athletic director, Don DiJulia, and I had my interview with him and other members of athletics. Basketball players mostly represent themselves more than the school. As the Hawk, whether you’re in the costume or not, all eyes are on you and you represent the school more than anything. That always stuck out to me. After interviewing with them, I was asked to interview with the men’s basketball Head Coach Phil Martelli, which was more one-on-one in his office. The Hawk [mascot] is representative of the university, but the major component is the basketball, so it’s important to have that relationship with him.

AH: What made you want to become the Hawk mascot?

TP: My dad graduated from St. Joe’s in 1985, so growing up I always came to basketball games and other events on campus. I always wanted to play my part with the basketball team, because I was such a huge fan. I remember going to the games in 2004 when they were in the elite eight [of the NCAA tournament]. I’ve always had a passion for St. Joe’s basketball. Growing up, I always thought I could be the Hawk one day, and now everything has come full circle. I feel like I’ve lived out a dream that I had from when I was a little kid and it’s so cool. I think people see the position as something prestigious, but for me, it was more about that 8 year-old kid that had that passion and exercising that now as a 21-year-old is amazing.

AH: What’s your favorite part about being the Hawk?

TP: I’ve had good memories on and off the court, but the basketball portion of it is just so cool, and for me, being able to basically be part of the program on a daily basis has been great. When I look back on my two years, it was a lot of time, but being there everyday around the team was so cool, and to travel and go to so many cool places has been great. While I’m not a basketball player, it’s nice to be part of it all. People who don’t know this school and how the program operates see me as a cheerleader or mascot separate from the team, but my coach is Phil Martelli, my teammates are the basketball players and managers. I’ve been living out that childhood dream and being part of it has been what I’ve always loved.

AH: What is your favorite moment from your time as the Hawk?

TP: The easy answer is last year [2016]. Winning the Atlantic 10 tournament was incredible and that weekend was so cool. We stayed at the Manhattan Marriott and played in Brooklyn. The first game kind of gave us a heart attack, but I knew after we came back and won that game that the rest of the weekend we were going to win it. Winning the tournament and celebrating was great. We watched the selection show and saw we were placed in Spokane, Washington, and I’ve never been to the west coast so flying out there was so cool. Winning [in the first round] the way we did, capturing the hearts of America since we were the latest game and all eyes were on us. Winning in such dramatic fashion was really big. The Oregon game may not have turned out how we wanted it, but it was still a really close game. The whole country was watching us and we came really close to pulling off a big upset which would’ve been awesome. I’ll never forget that week. It was one of the greatest weeks of my life.

AH: What advice do you have for people who are thinking about trying out for the position?

TP: I think this position is something very traditional, but it’s also what you make of it. Something that I always tried to do was interact and engage with little kids and families. A little kid is going to remember that they got their picture taken with a mascot, so that’s something I always try to do. If you’re interested in becoming the Hawk, put your whole self forward. For me, it’s something I had always thought of doing, and I think there are a lot of people at this school that have that kind of background where St. Joe’s is in their family. But even if that’s not the case, still put your full self forward. I think passion comes in a lot of different ways and this position is so unique in general. I’ve met so many people though the position, and it’s just done wonders for me and been such a great ride.

AH: What have you learned from your time as the Hawk mascot?

TP: One thing that’s big about being the Hawk is the fact that it’s not about me. Obviously I’m living out my dream and having the time of my life, but at the end of the day it’s not about me. It’s not about my dream or a scholarship, but about representing the university as a whole. The position is very selfless. You’re doing it for the university and trying to represent it and the entire community in the greatest light. You’re doing the little things. Also with being a manager, you’re doing things to make the program run and things that aren’t about yourself.

AH: After two years of being the Hawk and four years as a student, what’s up next for you?

TP: Graduation is in about a month, so I’ll graduate with a degree in accounting and will start working at PWC [PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP]  in Philadelphia. I don’t start work until October, but I’ll spend the summer studying for the CPA [certified public accountant] and having one last good summer with a vacation or two and some baseball. I said this at the basketball banquet a few weeks ago, but I love this university and I’ll always be part of the Saint Joseph’s community. I love this school, I love the program and I don’t think that love will ever die. While I might not be a student here next year, which is a sad and scary thought, I’ll always be part of it. St. Joe’s has had a huge, positive impact on my life, and I wouldn’t trade my four years here for anything.

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