What's it like to be Sparky?

Barrett student-produced documentary takes viewers behind the scenes with one of the students who play the ASU mascot

ASU mascot Sparky stands on a platform held by other students at a football game

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be Sparky, Arizona State University’s mascot?

What happens when you don the iconic Sparky mask and uniform to transform from an everyday student into the campus superhero? How it feels to be loved by students, parents, alumni and others in the university community?

How to handle mobs of people who want to crowd around and touch you? How to withstand the heat while performing in Sun Devil Stadium during an early fall home football game?

A Barrett, The Honors College senior who is majoring in business data analytics and sports business knows exactly what it takes to be Sparky. He has been the mascot throughout his years at ASU, appearing at events to promote school spirit and to cheer on ASU sports teams. 

ASU mascot Sparky stands on a basketball court and waves to the crowd

ASU mascot Sparky plays to the crowd at a basketball tournament game. Photo courtesy of Ellie Millon

The student, whose name must be kept confidential until his duties as Sparky come to an end next month, is the subject and one of the producers of a documentary — titled “Being Sparky. Forks Up. Mask Off.” — that shows how he came to be Sparky, his experiences as the university mascot, and how it has affected him.

The documentary is the honors creative project for him and three of his fellow Barrett students. They began the project in August of last year.

A screening of the film is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 8, in the Vista del Sol Theater, located in the Vista del Sol student residential complex near Apache Boulevard and McAllister Avenue. Immediately following the 15-minute film will be a question-and-answer session with students who worked on the project. The event is free and open to the public.

Ellie Millon, a marketing and finance major, helped with production and is handling marketing for the documentary and finding venues to screen it. She hopes to get it into Pollack Tempe Cinemas and the FilmBar in downtown Phoenix. Elizabeth Baxter, a computer information systems major, composed music for the film. Ben Ashby, a junior majoring in film and media production, is the film’s director and editor. Along with the documentary's star Sparky, Millon and Baxter are seniors and will graduate in May. 

Millon said that while filming the project, she and the other students learned some interesting things about Sparky:

• There are more than a half-dozen people who play Sparky, and while they are in costume, they are not allowed to appear together in the same place at the same time.

• University staffers maintain a schedule for each Sparky and accompany them on appearances.

• People sometimes behave inappropriately and do not seem to realize that a real person portrays Sparky.

Learn more about the mascot experience at the April 8 screening.

Top photo: If you're going to be Sparky, you have to be unafraid of performing in front of crowds. Photo courtesy of Ellie Millon

More Arts, humanities and education


Two photos pasted together of two men in uniform

ASU music alumni conduct premier US Navy bands

Arizona State University music alumni hold two of the highest-level positions within the United States Navy Band.Cmdr. Robert Joseph “Seph” Coats ('15 MM) was recently appointed as both commanding…

Photo illustration of a notebook with STEM letters and doodles

ASU gathers highly effective classroom teachers to share their successes

In the Gadsden Elementary School District, near Arizona’s border with Mexico, most of the students are poor, and many are English language learners.Yet this district has embraced high-level math…

An image of colorful video game equipment and screens in a photo credited to Stewart A. Elrod / Brandon Skeli on Flickr.

The future is a story

If there was one word reflecting the zeitgeist of today’s media environment, it might be “storytelling.” From its documented role in political conflict to its ubiquitous presence in influencer…