Some have called him the King of Charisma. Many are mesmerized by his dazzling smile and sharp sense of style. University of Findlay’s mascot, Derrick the Oiler, has it all, it seems. But who is Derrick? No, really, who IS he? At the March 2 basketball game against Trevecca Nazarene, which was also Senior Night, he was revealed to be Joseph O’Toole, an early childhood education major from Cincinnati who will be graduating in May.
O’Toole has been donning the Derrick costume since he auditioned to play the role in spring 2016.
“I always wanted to play Derrick,” said O’Toole. “It was a bucket list item.”
The main draw, O’Toole explained, are the kids whose excitement for Derrick is contagious. “At all the high school and college games, the kids are looking for the mascot,” he noted. Everyone who plays Derrick puts their own spin on the character, and O’Toole’s has involved catering to youth. “I always get down to the kid’s level. I never just stand there. It’s important to be engaging,” he said.
The second he stepped into the suit, it was clear the Cincinnatian would fill UF’s mascot role well, said Charlie Webb, assistant director of enrollment marketing and Derrick’s behind-the-scenes boss. “His enthusiasm to be the mascot was obvious,” Webb said of O’Toole.
Those who are lucky enough to play Derrick receive some monetary compensation, but O’Toole said he has enjoyed the job so much that he would’ve done it for free. At times, he has used his own car and paid for gas to travel to events where Derrick has made an appearance, he added.
Aside from playing the part well and figuring out a proper pace so that overheating doesn’t happen in the heavy woolen uniform, O’Toole said it was a challenge to keep his side gig a secret, which is required to play Derrick. “It was very difficult, especially with me also working at Henderson Dining Hall,” he said. He somehow managed to brush off suspicious friends and co-workers, who did their fair share of guessing and prodding.
The big reveal therefore proved to be fun, O’Toole maintained. “A lot of family members came, and said that wasn’t expected,” he noted.
In between classes and student teaching at Liberty-Benton Elementary School, O’Toole will continue to serve as Derrick for various campus events leading up to commencement, he said. After that, he hopes to become an elementary school teacher, a role that will undoubtedly benefit from his school spirit ambassador expertise.