Embracing the Feathers: A Year as Lake-Sumter State College’s Mascot, Swoop

At Lake-Sumter State College, the spirit and enthusiasm of its students shine in many ways, including our mascot, Swoop. Makenzi Heaton, a recent graduate of LSSC, might be more recognized for her softball skills, but she has also dedicated the past year to embodying the spirited persona of Swoop. Makenzi shared her experiences, challenges, and the profound impact that being Swoop had on her personal and professional development.  

Makenzi Heaton poses with Swoop feet on next to LSSC's mascot, Swoop

When asked about her motivation to become Swoop, Makenzi revealed that the infectious energy of a previous student mascot initially caught her attention. Drawn to the opportunity of spreading joy and school spirit, she eagerly took on the role without overthinking it.  

While being Swoop presented a few obstacles, Makenzi admitted that the costume’s head could get hot and occasionally caused her hair to come out of place. However, she emphasized that having a dedicated handler by her side played a key role in overcoming these challenges. 

For Makenzi, being Swoop was a collection of unforgettable experiences that will forever hold a special place in her heart. Her fondest memories involved witnessing the smiles on people’s faces and creating an atmosphere of happiness and school spirit. She enjoyed interacting with the college community and the joy that the mascot role brought to others. 

Through her dedication to the role, Makenzi discovered the extent of her own commitment and work ethic. Being Swoop taught her the importance of perseverance and the rewards that come from investing oneself wholeheartedly in a responsibility. Despite the demands of her school and softball commitments, Makenzi consciously prioritized her role as Swoop, ensuring that the mascot could instill the college community with excitement and enthusiasm. 

Makenzi Heaton makes a catch during a LSSC softball game

When asked about advice for those considering the role of Swoop in the future, Makenzi emphasized the importance of having fun and spreading happiness. She encourages potential mascots to embrace their role as entertainers, allowing themselves to enjoy the moment and bring smiles, laughter, and positivity to others. 

According to Makenzi, the most important qualities for a successful Swoop mascot are energy and a genuine sense of enjoyment. Swoop serves as a symbol of school spirit, rallying the crowd and igniting excitement at college events. A mascot can cultivate a warm and inclusive atmosphere of camaraderie and unity by radiating positive energy and embracing the moment. 

In one spirited sentence, Makenzi expressed her gratitude and honor in representing Lake-Sumter State College as Swoop: “I am the biggest bird, I had a blast, and it was truly an honor being THE lakehawk.” 

Makenzi’s journey as Swoop illustrates the impact and joy that being a college mascot can bring. From the initial inspiration to the incredible experiences and personal growth, Makenzi’s year as Swoop allowed her to leave a lasting impression on the LSSC community. Her advice for future mascots is a testament to the power of spreading positivity and school spirit. Swoop will forever remain an iconic symbol of celebration for LSSC, carrying on the tradition of bringing smiles to the faces of students, employees, and the community for years to come.