There is one student athlete at USF that the majority of the student body knows quite well but would never recognize. Rich Bosaaen is a senior majoring in international studies.
Bosaaen has also been USF’s mascot, Rocky the Bull, for the past two years. He is a transfer student from North Dakota State University.
Bosaaen was first drawn to pursue the position as Rocky after an internship with the Disney Corporation during which he filled the shoes of many popular characters such as Goofy, Tigger and Captain Hook. After being accepted by USF, he tried out for the spot as Rocky and was chosen. “The timing of transferring to this university could not have been better,” Bosaaen said. Before his internship with Disney, Bosaaen says he had “never danced or performed in any facet.”
This talented student athlete will be graduating this spring. He will also be passing the role of Rocky on to another student in a ceremony held during halftime of this Saturday’s men’s basketball game versus East Carolina.
Rocky the Bull has been the USF mascot since 1982, and until recently, not too much had changed about USF’s mascot. Bosaaen has greatly assisted students and USF Athletics in forming new traditions. The Sun Dolls lifting Rocky during their halftime performance at basketball games is one such tradition.
“When I got here, people knew there was a mascot, but didn’t really know that much about him. They didn’t see him anywhere and we tried changing that,” Bosaaen explained.
Traditions will undoubtedly be of utmost importance as USF Athletics moves into the Big East. Bosaaen said that during his time as Rocky, creating traditions “was his goal.”
Blake Guthrie, a USF staff member in the facilities and events managements department who Bosaaen referred to as “Rocky’s boss,” also commented on the importance of traditions and said it was “something we’re trying to build and it’s all going to come back around to Rocky and the spirit squad.”
“This year is all about traditions,” Guthrie said. “And we’ve got to start somewhere. If (tradition) is something that people respond to, then build on that. Get it so our 74,000-seat stadium is filled like they are everywhere else.”
During his time as Rocky, Bosaaen has made “so many” good memories while in the mascot uniform. He pointed out the second quarter of the last away basketball game as one of the greatest. During the quarter, Rocky the Bull and the Cincinnati Bearcat set their differences aside and posed for pictures together with children. Bosaaen enjoyed this because he was “able to make an impression on those kids.”
The student who takes Bosaaen’s role as Rocky “must be very physically fit, as the temperature inside the suit reaches 100 to 120 degrees, especially on warm days.”
Bosaaen’s advice to the incoming Rocky is to “try to be better than the Rockys before you. I think the next one should try to take it a step further. Continue some of the things we’ve done and try to incorporate more student activities at the games.”
In retrospection, Bosaaen said, “I enjoyed it more than anything. Being here (USF), 3,000 miles from home, it was nice to make a difference somewhere.”
Guthrie described the upcoming ceremony as, “An important thing for Rich.” Guthrie also offered, on behalf of the Athletic Department, a sincere “thanks for all his (Bosaaen’s) hard work. He’s brought Rocky up to a level that hopefully we can keep.”
Bosaaen is truly one of the most spirited student athletes at USF. “You either love being in that hot, sweaty costume, which you can’t see well in, or you don’t,” Bosaaen said. “I just love it, and I’m going to miss it.”