SAN ANTONIO – For years Tony Gonzalez had a big secret.
“They never knew who I was,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was UTSA's first mascot, Rowdy.
“The cheerleaders would come out, I would come out. I spend the majority of time on both of the baselines and going up and down the sidelines,” Gonzalez said.
Rowdy came to life in 1981. Gonzalez was a student and was in gymnastics class when his teacher approached him.
“I didn’t know it but at the time she was going to be in charge of the cheerleading and mascot for UTSA and she asked me if I would be interested in trying out for the mascot and I said well what does it involve. And she said all I want you to do is go there and misbehave as you do in my class. So that’s what I did,” Gonzalez said.
His performance was memorable.
“UTSA was playing the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. It was a fairly large crowd. So it was at Hemisfair Park Arena,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez hatched out of an egg and this was only the beginning of his goofy acts.
“I would put the "Rocky" songs. I would do some pushups. I’d do some exercise. I love to roller skate. I incorporated roller skating during the halftime show,” Gonzalez said.
Rowdy’s look has changed since the first costume.
“I put it on and we realized that there wasn’t a lot of orange or blue on it, so they made me a vest. I had a baseball cap that was tied to the top of my head. That’s how it started, so it kind of evolved from there,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said there are more opportunities today at UTSA.
“I remember when I was coming to school here, there were two or three buildings,” Gonzalez said. “It's expanding and there’s so much opportunity now.”
Gonzalez still thinks about his days of performing.
“I do have dreams on occasion of being on the floor and I forgotten something. I’m trying to rush out to the game and I either have forgotten my hands or the leggings,” Gonzalez said.
For those who may choose to be the Rowdy in the future, Gonzalez has a message for them.
“Be Rowdy for the people. For the students,” Gonzalez said.
Rowdy will be bringing the school spirit to the UTSA Main Campus this Friday for Fiesta UTSA. UTSA’s oldest Fiesta tradition now in its 42nd year, this year’s theme is “Happy Birthday to UTSA.” The celebration includes food and drinks, live music, Fiesta royalty, Fiesta medals and plenty of cascarones. This family-friendly event is free and the entire San Antonio community is invited. Proceeds from the student-led booths support UTSA student organizations.