The Most Recognizable Teammate
The stadium rumbles.
The marketing department’s pre-game video warbles through the speakers. Feet shuffle toward the entrance of the field in Amon G. Carter Stadium. Players excitedly jump, preparing to charge through the south entrance tunnel and start the game.
SuperFrog bounces between the players, cheerleaders and showgirls, bantering with them in the locker room.
“I kind of sit there in the [football] locker room and [give] good vibes, just talking to people,” said SuperFrog. “It’s game day, so everyone’s excited. I get the whole pump-up thing going.”
This year there are seven SuperFrogs – the top four perform at the football games.
For scheduling purposes, two students will be SuperFrog during each football game, switching half way through the game. The identities of the students who dress and perform as SuperFrog are not publicly known.
But SuperFrog is more than a spirit booster. Just like the university itself, SuperFrog has a tradition and legacy of his own.
The Beginning of the Legacy
The horned frog first appeared as TCU’s mascot in 1896, according to the online archives of TCU Magazine.
According to the legend cited in the archives, the practice football field of AddRan College, the name of the university before it became Texas Christian University, was filled with horned frogs.
“Someone imitated the players scampered about like the fierce-looking and sturdy creatures,” according to the magazine. “And the players began referring to themselves as such.”
This was the birth of the horned frog as TCU’s mascot, but it would be more than 50 years before anyone officially dressed as a horned frog in support of TCU.
“Addie the All-American Frog” debuted as TCU’s mascot in 1949 in honor of Addison Clark Jr., one of the founders of TCU, according to TCU Magazine.
“The name should be short, easy to pronounce and a name everyone, anywhere in the nation would associate with a frog,” as reported by the TCU Daily Skiff according to the archives.
Addie went through many minor tweaks in his costume and persona in order to become a successful and functional mascot. However in 1979, Director of Sports Promotions John Grace chose an entirely new look for the mascot.
The Skiff quoted Grace as saying “we don’t have a name for the mascot yet, just call it Super Frog for now.”
The name stuck.
But SuperFrog was not done with his ultimate transformation.
Over the next 20 years, his costume changed annually in order to become more comfortable for the students who wore it. But by 1999, the costumes were too worn and too outdated to use.
In 1999 a new version of SuperFrog debuted that had a thinned out and shaped up appearance. Looking more human and less lizard like, SuperFrog’s lolling tongue was replaced with a menacing grin.
His new look made SuperFrog more intimidating as a mascot, said current Spirit Coordinator Lindsay Westbrook.
This more “buff” SuperFrog was commissioned by artist Gorland Mar and revised by a committee led by Education Placement Director and cheerleader Dale Young, class of 1966 according to TCU Magazine.
Becoming a Part of the Legacy
Since entering the Big 12 Conference, SuperFrog has become more iconic as the university’s mascot, Westbrook said.
Because of this, the student behind SuperFrog must perform better than ever.
The application process for SuperFrog became more selective throughout the years so as to ensure that students in the costume would fully embody the mascot, said Westbrook.
For some students, the application process involved attending other events, such as weddings of TCU alumni, visits to children’s hospitals and even a TCU home football game. If the Spirit Committee thought that the student embodied the upbeat energy of SuperFrog, they were able to keep the job.
One of the SuperFrogs, a TCU senior, said his interview for the mascot position was to run the “T” flag out onto the field at the beginning of a home football game. If he did it correctly with the powerful persona of SuperFrog, then he would be hired as SuperFrog.
“It was the scariest day of my life,” he said. “It was in front of way too many people that I wasn’t ready for.”
That was his freshman year and he’s been a SuperFrog ever since.
“It’s the closest I’ve ever been in the highlight, without actually being in the highlight,” he said.
The application process for SuperFrog this season became more intricate and formal. Every student interested in being the mascot, including veterans, had to perform an original skit in the suit for a panel of judges, Westbrook said.
Generations of the Legacy
This season, SuperFrog became generational.
A sophomore is the second generation in his family to be TCU’s mascot.
“[Being SuperFrog] was one of the better experiences in life for me,” said the first generation. “SuperFrog has become a bigger face for TCU than I ever imagined.”
The first generation said it is a “pure joy” to see his son perform as SuperFrog, especially during home football games.
He said during a recent game, he sent his son text: “I know you know what you’re doing now. When you stood up on the edge between the seats and the stadium, I saw you lock your leg in. At that point, I knew you knew what you were doing.”
On the bus escort during last season’s Kansas State away game, the son sent his dad a text: “Dad, I wish you could see this, because this is amazing.”
The father replied: “Yes, I do know.”
“The Face” of TCU
As the football program and university have grown over the years, SuperFrog has emerged as the “face” of TCU, said current and former SuperFrogs.
“You’re the ultimate image of the university and the ultimate fan,” said the second generation SuperFrog. “You can lead a whole fan base simply by putting on a persona.”
But as his popularity grew, so too did the responsibility. These days SuperFrog cannot go anywhere unseen.
“It’s the closest thing to the limelight without actually being famous,” said senior and fourth-year SuperFrog. “You put on that suit, you put on that head and everyone loves you. It’s one of those things you can’t explain.”