From student to teacher: former Lil’ Red on coaching today’s mascots

Husker Spirit Squad manager of operations Marlon Lozano prepares Herbie Husker’s hat for a men’s basketball game.

From the inside of an inflatable costume, Marlon Lozano has seen thousands of smiles, posed for countless pictures, and danced around for hours—all without saying a word. Though it’s one of the cardinal rules of being a mascot to keep your real identity a secret, Lozano, 52, has been in a Cornhusker mascot costume since 1992.

“I thought, wow it would be so cool to be that character and make kids smile,” Lozano said, recalling one of the first times he saw Herbie Husker. He knew he wanted to make his way into the giant Herbie Husker suit, but he wasn’t sure how. Until he picked up a copy of the Daily Nebraskan his sophomore year.

“I saw an ad in [The Daily Nebraskan] calling for mascots, there were tryouts,” Lozano said. “Without any experience and I had a lot of extra sugar on my cereal that morning, I went for it. Twenty-six years later, here I am.”

After Lozano graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1994, he knew he wanted to work for NU and with students in some capacity. While working in the office of scholarships and financial aid, Lozano became a volunteer assistant for the spirit squad. At one point, he was the sole sponsor for cheerleading, dance team and mascots. Today, he works alongside head coach Erynn Nicholson as the manager of operations.

“I basically created this position,” Lozano said. “I do behind the scenes, making sure the mascot costumes are clean and ready to go, coaching the mascots, make sure the cheerleaders and dancers have their food, working with equipment, and really knowing the game.”

Lozano takes care of the whole Husker Spirit Squad, making sure the mascots, cheerleaders and dancers are ready for every event.

Lozano explains the role of a mascot as something that is for entertainment, but also for information. The importance of knowing the rules and flow of different sports is huge for a mascot, because the crowd looks to them for reactions.

“Whether you are crying, laughing, mad, excited, you exaggerate those characters big,” Lozano said. As for the other rules of being a mascot, it’s pretty simple.

The number one rule is you don’t talk,” Lozano said. From there, it’s all about the acting. Lozano credits his success as a mascot to watching others who had been doing it longer than him and watching cartoons.

Spirit Squad members know Marlon for his quirky personality and his signature go-to face.

“I do not see myself doing anything else,” Lozano said. “I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s fun.”

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