Saturday, March 1, 2003

Five Questions with Saint Joseph's mascot Steve Klarich

For the past two seasons, Steve Klarich, a 21-year-old food marketing student, has carried out one of the most revered roles in Philadelphia, that of the Saint Joseph's Hawk mascot. Klarich survived a lengthy application process that included interviews with head basketball coach Phil Martelli and a 15-member Hawk board to become the Hawk. In return, he receives a full scholarship and inevitable popularity benefits associated with the Hawk. Of course, he had to take time to answer five questions from the Enquirer's Dustin Dow this week.

1. How famous are you in Philadelphia?

The St. Joseph's mascot hawk.
(Craig Ruttle file photo)
| ZOOM |
It was instant fame when I became the Hawk. I get cheesesteaks on the house. In a couple weeks, I'm going to do TV interviews with CBS and MTV for March Madness. The Hawk is the most famous mascot in all of sports. The girls love it. Trust me. I'm more known than some of the basketball players.

2. What do players think about that?

Well, they look at me as part of the team. I have a locker in the locker room with the rest of the players.

3. What is the hardest part about being the Hawk?

Doing the figure-eights. I go out and do figure-eights while flapping my wings during timeouts at home games. So I'm sprinting for like 20 seconds and you can't recover when you're done, because you have to keep flapping your wings.

4. Have there been any close calls?

There have been times when I've been attacked. A fan at St. Bonaventure attacked me, and a fan from Villanova attacked me, but I kept flapping. When the Villanova fan came at me, I saw him coming so I punched him in the face with one wing and kept flapping the other wing.

Then a bunch of security guards and cheerleaders came over and started pounding the guy. He got a bloody face.

5. What is the greatest moment in Hawk history?

Actually, just the other night against La Salle. I started a new tradition this season at halftime by shooting a free throw, a 3-pointer and a half-court shot while flapping one of my wings.

Well, the game against La Salle was my last game at the Palestra, and I hadn't made the half-court shot all season.

And I made the free throw. I made the 3-pointer, and in my last game, I finally made the half-courter. The whole place gave me a standing ovation. It was like an act of God.

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