One recent University of Miami graduate has revealed a secret she had to keep for three years - and one that helped her break barriers in the process.
During recent graduation ceremonies, Madison Clinger revealed that she had been the school’s mascot, Sebastian the Ibis. The Fort Myers native was the first woman to play the role of the beloved mascot in more than 40 years.
“It was definitely a life changing experience to say the least,” Clinger told NBC affiliate WBBH-TV.
Clinger played the role at UM football and basketball games as well as charity events for the school. She said her favorite moment came when she went crowd surfing in the student section during a basketball game against rival FSU.
“I was screaming in my suit,” she said.
Clinger started her mascot career working for her parents’ fast-food restaurant before taking on the role of the mascot for her high school, Bishop Verot Catholic High School. Her parents, John and Rusti, have been at nearly all the games and appearances – which was slightly more difficult for one reason for mom Rusti.
“For someone who didn’t know it was Madison, it looked clearly like I had an obsession with the University of Miami. Even though I attended Florida State University,” she admitted.
Watching their daughter bring joy to thousands of people couldn’t have made Madison’s parents any prouder.
“It makes me emotional every time I think about it,” Rusti said. “I’m pretty proud of her.”
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