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The Man Behind the Mascot: Meet Rodney the Ram

Last updatedMay 1, 2018 by Logan Bogert, Division of Student Affairs in Student-focused

When Theo Malamatos stepped onto Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus as a freshman in the fall of 2014, he had hopes to pursue a degree in psychology.

Fast forward four years later and Malamatos, a senior psychology major and religious studies minor, is a May 2018 VCU graduate. But before he donned a cap and gown, Malamatos was the man behind VCU’s mascot — Rodney the Ram.

After seeing a hiring post for Rodney in his VCU email, Malamatos emailed the contact for VCU Athletics and completed an interview and tryout period which included endurance tests and test scenarios. A week later, Malamatos was invited to become Rodney the Ram.

“I had always loved sports, especially basketball. This, together with my goofy personality, made me want to apply to become the school mascot,” Malamatos said. “I love having a job where I can make people laugh and enjoy my favorite sports at the same time.”

Rodney the Ram and student Theodore Malamatos

Over the course of four years, Malamatos guesses he’s attended between 100 and 150 events as Rodney. These events included traveling with the basketball team to Brooklyn, Seton Hall, Salt Lake City and the Bahamas. He was also on the “Today Show” in New York.

“I’ve never seen any other mascot help lead a student section at their school or be involved as much as Theo has as Rodney,” former VCU cheerleader Tai Wong said. “Both inside and out, Theo being Rodney the Ram is a great representation of what VCU is — well-rounded, energetic and spirited.”

In 2015, Malamatos was invited to the National Mascot Competition at Steamboat Springs Resort in Colorado. During the competition, he competed in many events including mascot bowling, dance offs and ski bike slalom. Malamatos finished the national competition in 2nd place, just one point behind the University of Nevada’s Wolfie Jr.

“I got to travel all over to make people smile and watch the game I love. What better job could I have had in college?” Malamatos said.

For four years, Malamatos identity as Rodney the Ram was top secret. Rodney’s identity wasn’t revealed until the senior night basketball game on Feb. 28.

Tryouts for Rodney the Ram are held every other semester at the Siegel Center. Malamatos’ advice to anyone wanting to tryout is to hydrate.

“If you have a desire to be the coolest Ram on campus, then I’d suggest to keep an eye out for Rodney the Ram tryouts,” he said. “Show off your best dance moves, and above all drink water. Hydration is key.”

After graduating from VCU, Malamatos plans to attend Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary for his Masters of Divinity. He also aims to get a job with the Boston Red Sox mascot program.

“It has been a wild four years, and I am truly blessed to have spent it as our school mascot.”

Rodney the Ram and VCU cheerleaders during the A10 tournament

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