Kyla Segovia gets the crowd roaring at every Wolf Pack football game, but not before concealing her identity with a fur-covered suit, a cheer skirt and a large wolf head.
“Most people know that I’m involved with the cheer squad, but they don’t know exactly what it is that I do,” said Segovia.
Originally from Pittsburg, Calif., Segovia doesn’t normally wear the costume during the week, but is instead studying criminal justice and communications. Balancing the school life and the mascot life can be a challenge for her, but she pushes through.
“I had a hard time adjusting to moving out here, and doing this has been a whole new experience,” said Segovia. “I feel like I’ve come out of my shell completely, and getting to represent where I go to school makes me feel connected to the school in a way I’ve never felt before.”
Segovia has a background in dance and cheer. While her job for the Wolf Pack might seem unusual, she’s still getting to connect back to her performing roots.
“I have been a performer my whole life, and then I came out here before I was even accepted to the university for a cheer clinic,” said Segovia. “My RA who was a mascot last year basically encouraged me to try out and I did and here we are.”
When she gets to apply her performing background to her job as Luna, it becomes an even more special experience.
On a frigid afternoon on Halloween weekend, the cheer team with Nevada Wolf Pack is inside Legacy Hall preparing for the homecoming football game. Segovia plays the role of Luna, one of the beloved Wolf Pack mascots.
“I wake up, I do my hair, I put on music and then I walk to Legacy [Hall] or one of my teammates picks me up and we get all hyped up together,” she said.
Segovia and her teammates don’t sit around for hours before the game. She laid out a whole timeline of events for the cheer squad that take place before a big game.
“We’re usually doing the Wolf Pack Walk, the President’s Tailgate and just a ton of other things that happen prior to the game,” she said.
The game that day started at 7:30 p.m., but Segovia and her teammates were on campus for several hours beforehand. This is a pretty typical routine for her before suiting up.
3 p.m. Suit up for Wolf Pack Walk
Inside Legacy Hall, the Wolf Pack cheer squad are scrambling to get ready for the first of several events that night. Segovia is struggling to get Luna’s head properly fitted onto her body.
“People think it’s a really easy gig that we get,” said Segovia. “It’s really hot. It’s a lot of movement. We try to take as little breaks as possible – especially on game day.”
One of the last minute preparations Segovia made was stomping a Wolf Pack T-shirt in some mud and running it over several times with a golf cart. Since the game took place on Halloween weekend, the theme for the halftime show was going to be based on the song “Thriller”, and the goal was to make the squad look like zombies.
The mascots and a few other members of the squad packed into the small golf cart to start the Wolf Pack Walk, where the mascots and cheer squad get to interact with the fans at the tailgate before the kickoff.
At the tailgate, Segovia – now Luna – danced to the tunes from the marching band and took many pictures with fans in the parking lot.
4 p.m. Quick bite before President’s Tailgate
After exciting fans during the Wolf Pack Walk, Segovia and the other mascots returned to Legacy Hall for a quick change into some more comfortable clothing. One of the other mascots that night was Mikayla Pagh, who is also one of Segovia’s team captains.
Pagh’s family were some of the tailgaters where the Wolf Pack Walk took place. Her family set up their RV with a canopy, some chairs and a table with tortillas and toppings for tacos. Pagh and her family served up tacos and nachos to the mascots, and everyone got to sit and relax for a while.
Segovia and the other mascots came to get food and drinks from Pagh’s family while the rest of the squad was out selling Wolf Pack merch.
5 p.m. Back at Legacy Hall
Before heading to the President’s Tailgate, Segovia and the other mascots had to go back to Legacy Hall once more to get back into their costumes.
The cheer squad coaches provided more food for the team and acknowledged some of the members for their recent accomplishments.
The mascots sat in the back of the room just having casual conversation before jumping back into the suits.
When everyone prepared to head to the next event, loud music was blasting to get everyone excited and energized.
With how difficult it can get to properly fit into the suits, the mascots were the last ones in the room to get out the door.
6 p.m. Hanging with the president
At the President’s Tailgate, Segovia, once again in the Luna suit, helped welcome Brian Sandoval, university president, where he shared a few words sharing his excitement about the game. The marching band also made an appearance and put on a brief performance.
Since this was the homecoming game, alumni from the university were invited to the event. Luna interacted with the alumni and put on playful acts with the other mascots.
By this time, it was too cold even with a few layers on, but Segovia mentioned that she still can get overheated inside Luna’s suit even if it’s cold out.
7 p.m. Game time
While kickoff for the game didn’t happen until 7:30 p.m., Segovia and her teammates went onto the field before kickoff to get the crowds in the stands hyped up. Initially, there weren’t many fans in the stands, but it gradually got busier with time.
Segovia is constantly taking photos with people before and during the game. She explained how she chooses to interact with the crowds during games.
“Kids are a big thing,” said Segovia. “Kids love pictures. I’ve literally been tackled by children.”
Many children attended the game that night. Just about any time you looked towards Luna, she was with multiple children who wanted to meet her or snap a quick picture.
Luna and the other mascots have a “handler”. One of the responsibilities of the handlers is to make sure the crowds are being respectful to the mascots. Segovia says the mascots are constantly busy, but at the same time people are always asking for pictures and having a handler helps control the crowds.
After kickoff, Luna was on the sideline with part of the cheer squad where she put on dance performances with them while also trying to get photos with the fans.
9 p.m. Putting on a show at halftime
At halftime, the football teams got off the field. The mascots and cheer squad started walking to the other side of the field to get ready for the halftime show.
The cheer squad performed their “Thriller” show first, with Segovia in the Luna suit and dancing with the squad. Segovia didn’t have to perform any stunts for this show, but it’s a regular practice for her at a lot of games.
“My favorite moment was definitely the Luna wall that we did at the first football game,” said Segovia. “That’s a pyramid that we do.”
When the cheer performance was over, the crowds in the stand gave loud cheers and applause.
The cheer performance was followed up by the band performance and a drone show, which was the first of its kind at any Wolf Pack game. After halftime, Segovia and the other mascots were escorted back to Legacy Hall, where she finally got to get back into comfortable clothing after a long and exhausting day.
Nick Stewart can be reached via email at email@example.com or via twitter @nickk_stewart.