Suited for the Role
Photo by Maryland Athletics
The furry, funny Testudo mascot is the Terps’ top cheerleader. He cartwheels on the sidelines, shakes his turtle tush on viral TikTok dances and poses for selfies with fans. But he didn’t always look this way (and definitely didn’t have these moves).
Since then, dozens of men and women have donned the costume, including Grant Handley ’22, M.P.P. ’23. He shells out what it takes to be Maryland’s mascot:
BE EVERYWHERE (BUT NO OVERLAPS!)
Testudo’s a busy turtle, greeting families during move-in, high-fiving kids during Maryland Day, hobnobbing with the governor during announcements and, of course, attending sports games. But he’ll never be in two places at the same time.
THINK ON YOUR FEET
“A mascot should never be standing around—they should always be miming or reacting to something,” says Handley, who uses props and improv to perform at all times. That includes dealing with difficult opposing fans: “You have to figure out how to defuse that situation.”
KEEP IT MOVING
“We joke that you have to be in ‘mascot shape,’” says Handley. The suit weighs at least 30 pounds—the head is the heaviest part—so the four or five students on the team each year always have to hit the gym.
DON’T SPILL THE BEANS
Team members have to keep their identity a secret from everyone, and they can’t speak or show any skin. (The Oregon Duck’s head falling off at a game last fall was “nightmare fuel,” says Handley).
BE CONFIDENT—NOT COCKY
Testudo’s known for his one-handed chest pound, but he’s not an in-your-face mascot. “He might grab someone’s hat and dangle it in their face. And when children come, he’ll get low so he’s not intimidating,” says Handley. “He’s a friendly, lovable turtle.”
Click through the gallery to see how Testudo has evolved over the decades.