St. Mary Central senior Matt Flunker pleasantly caught me by surprise during a recent interview. I asked captains of both the Zephyr girls and boys basketball teams about their plans after graduation. Flunker shared that he will attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and added that he plans to try out to be Bucky Badger. I have always considered Bucky among the top collegiate mascots, so I was impressed.
Last weekend, I headed to the theater with my eldest son, Ben. He really wanted to see "Being Bucky," a documentary about the face of UW and the seven students who played him in 2007-2008. The film, produced by John Fromstein and directed by Scott Smith, of Fulton Market Films in Chicago, premiered April 4 at the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison.
I recommend "Being Bucky." Not only does the film provide insight to the tryout process and the demands of playing Bucky, but it is a story of teamwork. Although only one of seven dons the costume at a time, they often operate as a unit. The filmmakers also travel to the hometowns of some of the Bucky team members to offer a glimpse of their family lives away from campus. Chris Kitts of Green Bay and Craig Kohn of Bonduel are among the Buckys featured in the film. Kohn was there for the showing we attended, and Kitts was scheduled to appear at a later show. The film featured an added bonus. Bucky posed for photos and greeted moviegoers in the lobby.
According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the filmmakers agreed not to show anything harmful to the school brand. They reported that it was never an issue because they didn’t encounter anything of that nature, a testament to the character of those playing Bucky.
Bucky tryouts are held in April, so the 2009-2010 team was recently selected. I believe that Flunker will be a good candidate for 2010-2011. He’s a three-sport athlete at SMC, so he can definitely handle the physical demands. Personality is also a key component that was evident in the tryouts showcased in "Being Bucky." My first impression of Flunker is that he has a good sense of humor, which will serve him well in the mascot world.
Good luck to Matt in Madison, and if he pursues his Bucky goal, I hope entertaining in a 35-pound Badger head is a part of his future.