While in the school library studying for finals at the University of Kentucky last spring, Reece Brammell and a friend noticed an advertisement that popped up on Facebook for mascot additions. Just a click later, Brammell was on his way to becoming the new Scratch at UK.
Brammell was dared to try out and, in a twist of events, ended up landing the role as Scratch, one of three mascots at Kentucky that includes the Wildcat and Scratch played by male students and a kitten played by a female student. Brammell left for cheerleading camp last Friday and returned Tuesday before diving headfirst into the world of mascots this school year as an upcoming junior.
“I was absolutely surprised to get it,” Brammell said. “I didn’t even realize it was an available position until that day sitting in the library when that ad popped up on the screen. My friend saw it, she dared me and I got it. It was unbelievable.”
Brammell has lived in New Castle his whole life, growing up a UK fan and graduating from Henry County High School in 2007. He never thought about becoming a Kentucky mascot.
Tryouts for two openings were at the end of the school year. With a heavy workload, two students take turns being Wildcat and two take turns being Scratch. Brammell decided to try out for the lesser-known role of Scratch.
“At tryouts there were a bunch of people there,” Brammell said. “At first they interviewed me in front of everyone, then they turned on some music and told me to entertain them for one minute. It was ridiculous. I went to Starbucks before and had two double shots of espresso so I think that helped. It was pretty wild when they turned on the music. I just danced around and made a fool of myself. They ate it up.”
Apparently, that’s what they were looking for. Brammell received a call later that night letting him know he was selected to become the new Scratch. He was required to attend a five-day camp and will play Scratch at various games and charity events this school year. During football games, Brammell and the other Scratch will rotate halves, while they will each work an entire basketball game in the winter.
“It was a little wild because it started out as a dare and they ended up calling me back to let me know I got it,” Brammell said.
This year’s camp was in Wisconsin, where the UK cheerleaders, dance team and other mascots met to work on routines, interact with each other and bond. When they arrive back on campus, the cheerleaders continue to practice daily while the mascots practice just once per week.
Brammell went to one practice before camp, when he received all his gear and watched the cheerleaders practice. He tried on part of the Scratch suit before camp — the face, gloves and boots — too see what he will be faced with. It was tough, he said, with tunnel vision.
“It’s been great so far. I went to cheerleading practice last Wednesday night and they gave me all this really nice Nike gear. The cheerleaders were doing all these intense mounts and I was just hanging out.”
Brammell receives $750 per semester from the cheerleaders’ department to play Scratch, while the Wildcat receives a full scholarship. As Scratch, he will interact with the players and fans and have one of the best seats in the house. And he could possibly become Wildcat if it becomes available.
“If it’s fun this year, then I’ll definitely be interested,” Brammell said of the possibility of becoming the more famous and more lucrative Wildcat character. “So far, it’s been really great.”
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