They say every dog has its day and for recent Holmes alum Michael Edmonds, that day was Saturday, April 8. That was the day that Mississippi State University informed Michael, the current Holmes mascot that he had been chosen to be MSU's Bully for the 2017-18 school year.
The son of Arthur and Tammy Edmonds of Yazoo City, Michael earned his Associate of Arts degree in Communications from Holmes on May 12. Active in student life, he was not only Holmes Bully, but also an Ambassador, a member of MOSAIC, a Horizons yearbook staff photographer and president of Student Government Association. Michael was chosen as Mr. Holmes CC for the Goodman Campus, as well.
"Graduating from Holmes was one of the best experiences of my life," Michael said. "I'm a first-generation college graduate in my family and everybody was so excited for me. I have to give Cheerleading Coach Heather Jones credit for me ending up at Holmes to begin with...she and I go to church together in Yazoo City and she talked me into coming to Holmes and trying out to be the mascot. I'm not going to lie, I was scared out of my mind the first week of mascot camp, but Coach Jones encouraged me every day and served as a great mentor.
"I loved being the mascot at Holmes, but I'll be honest, I never imagined I would try out to be the mascot for Mississippi State University. As my time at Holmes was coming to an end, though, I thought, why not try out at MSU? I'd had such a great experience with it at Holmes. The try-out was intense! The day started off with an interview that morning and then later we performed at Super Bulldog Weekend, which was one of the most exciting experiences I've had so far. I could lift my hand, or paw rather, and the crowd would go wild."
The role of Bully at MSU will not only entail Michael entertaining the crowd during football games, home basketball games and other athletic events, it will also include community involvement. He will take pictures with children pre-game, visit with fans, make alumni appearances, show up for university functions and even appear at some outside events such as alumni weddings and birthday parties.
"I can already tell that there are many similarities between being Bully at Holmes and at MSU," Michael said. "I know I'll still go to some of the same mascot camps because when I went to the Cheerleading and Mascot Camp at The University of Alabama with Holmes, all the SEC mascots were there too. Also, while at Holmes, I was involved in a lot of community service and events outside of athletics, just as I'll continue to do at MSU.
"Some of my favorite memories involve visiting the sick children at Blair E. Batson Hospital. Making those kids smile was one of the best things in the world. I also loved how kids would run up to me at football games yelling 'Bully, Bully!' as they excitedly asked to take their photo with me. It was so much fun to brighten their day and I'm thrilled that I get to continue doing that."
The Holmes cheerleaders and Bully also helped out with cheerleading campus for elementary aged kids, visited all of Holmes' campuses for events like Fall Fest and Spring Fling and assisted with promotion for the college.
"I will say, one of the funniest experiences I had as Bully was when we went to perform for the Yazoo City Boys & Girls Club," Michael said. "We were all dancing around, getting the kids excited and Coach Jones told me to go into the crowd of children. The next thing I know, all the kids start tackling me, trying to pull my tail off, take my head off, just basically trying to take me apart. I start grabbing the rails to get away from them and keep my costume on. It was time for Bully to exit! We decided that was the last time I'd go out into a crowd of small children like that!
"One of my favorite experiences as Bully was going to Disney World with the cheerleaders for the UCA College National Championship. Another great memory is when I helped the marketing and communications departments with the President's Report video. We were showcasing the new fitness center in Ridgeland and I did all kinds of things as Bully, from yoga to using the weight machines to floating around the massive pool in an inner tube. It was a challenge trying not to get the Bully suit wet, but the whole experience was a lot of fun!"
Michael intends to continue his studies in marketing at MSU. He is grateful for how his stint as Bully has helped him in his major and will continue to when he transfers. As a Holmes student, he worked closely with the marketing department on a number of recruiting/promotional pieces, including video, photo shoots and live appearances. He will continue to have such opportunities at MSU, learning more about their jobs in marketing as well as all the ins and outs of the SEC.
Despite the ways in which the Bully experience will be similar from Holmes to MSU, Michael is quick to point out the key differences.
"The day of try-outs at MSU I thought, this is going to be easy, I've got this in the bag," Michael said. "Then I got up there, saw the stadium and my heart started racing. Performing at Super Bulldog Weekend and at the Governor's Cup (for MSU) was exhilarating, but it was a lot more people than I'm used to performing in front of at a community college. I'm used to most people knowing it's me inside the suit and being used to seeing me a good bit. At these events, no one knew who was inside the suit. The cameras were everywhere and the fans were going crazy. Despite how overwhelming it was at first, it was an amazing experience and I was thrilled to learn I'd made the cut to be (MSU's) Bully!
"For anyone interested in becoming a college mascot, my advice is to get out there, be big with your emotions and be yourself! It is all about improvisation and having fun with it."
For information about Holmes Community College and becoming a mascot, contact Heather Jones at (662) 472.9099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about becoming a Mississippi State University mascot, contact Melissa Nichols at (662) 325.0350 or MNichols@saffairs.msstate.edu.