Why you should care

Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Timmy Parks, of the Saint Joseph’s University Hawks
Philadelphia

Today, I came home, folded some laundry to get ready for our trip to Spokane, Washington, took a little nap and then headed over to basketball practice.

When it’s a game day, if it’s a home game, we get there two hours before; on the road, it varies. With 40 to 50 minutes left before a game, I’m hanging out on the court. My parents come to most of the games, and I’ll talk to them or to friends. When the pregame clock hits 20, I put my T-shirt and shorts on and then put the Hawk costume on. I stretch out. Once the team comes in, I put the wings on and then, in the hallway, the head.

It’s definitely pretty hot, especially in older arenas that aren’t well ventilated. The costume is four parts, pretty simple. It looks like an actual hawk — it doesn’t look like a stuffed animal. I can hear everything; I see out of the beak. I don’t really talk, but if I had to it’d be hard to hear me. I’ve never worn it just for fun. There’s never really a reason to put on a hot suit that’s kind of got a sweaty smell to it.

It’s nonstop flapping my wings. ESPN did a “flap-o-meter” a couple of years ago and their estimate was around 3,500, I think. People always ask how tiring it is, but I don’t really notice it at this point. Now that we’re 34 games into the season, I’m fine. We had three straight games, three straight days recently, and I was fine. I’ve gotten a little stronger. My mom thinks I’ve built up muscle; I bought a couple of dress shirts over the holidays and she was talking to the guys at Men’s Wearhouse about it.

The Hawk is a full-tuition scholarship. It’s a big deal for the program, myself, my parents.

 

It’s a lot of time, but it’s unbelievable. It’s definitely an honor. The Hawk is a full-tuition scholarship. It’s a big deal for the program, myself, my parents. My dad went to St. Joe’s; my mom didn’t, but she loves St. Joe’s. She’s a Catholic schoolteacher. This is something they knew I wanted to do and were fully behind me. I applied spring of my freshman year but didn’t get it because a senior was definitely way more qualified. Then I applied again and got it.

It’s actually the 60th anniversary of the Hawk, which is pretty special. Beginning of January, most of the previous Hawks came back. Before the game, we had a pregame brunch; my parents were there. At halftime they called all the Hawks out, starting with the original Hawk, and then they went in chronological order. I was the last one called — and the only one in costume.

It’s a publicized thing that I’m the Hawk. Some other schools you never know who it is, but here it’s very well known. My friends think it’s awesome. They’re so excited that they’re able to say they’re friends with the Hawk. I wouldn’t say it’s helped me get invited to parties one way or the other. For me, it’s more of an honor than what I’m getting out of it personally.

Nothing from other teams has been too bad. When we played Temple, they knew my name — I thought that was kind of funny. They’d say, “Timmy, you suck.” There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s definitely been stories in the past of Hawks in altercations, but nothing bad has happened to me — knock on wood — so far.

As the Hawk, you’re different, even from a player. I’m the Hawk. The school and myself, I hold myself to a higher standard. I’m a figurehead. For me, I represent the university.

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Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.