McClellan fills big shoes, head
However, only one Amherst student has the task of filling not only the figurative shoes of his predecessor, but also the oversized head, tri-cornered hat and purple britches of the Lord Jeff that came before him. That student is sophomore Christian McClellan, who will be taking over mascot duties from the legendary Tripp Whitbeck ’03, who redefined the position during his remarkable three-year tenure as Lord Jeff.
“I’m actually feeling a lot of pressure,” said McClellan. At his first official appearance this past weekend at the Amherst Invitational, a number of people sought out McClellan to tell him that he had “big shoes to fill.”
Last spring, McClellan heard from a friend that Whitbeck was looking for a new mascot. “I had no idea who the mascot was but at various times in my life I had had aspirations of being a mascot,” said McClellan. He applied on a whim, filled out a questionnaire and soon owned the job. McClellan maintains that two particular questions were central to his selection. The first: will you be going abroad? No. The second: what size clothing do you wear?
“I always was into sports, but, with a few exceptions, wasn’t very successful and I always make a clown of myself,” said McClellan.
McClellan ventures into largely uncharted territory, as there are no written guidelines to being the Lord Jeff at Amherst. He spoke with Athletic Director Peter Gooding about “certain limitations” of the job, but other than a few restrictions and the example of Whitbeck’s own performances, McClellan’s imagination is the only limit. He plans to harass the referees for bad calls, but past that, he will not reveal any of his strategies. Though he has watched other mascots for inspiration, he thinks that the Lord Jeff is a different breed of mascot than, say, the Philly Phanatic.
“I don’t think an old English man in a tri-cornered hat with white hair gets crazy,” said McClellan.
In recent years, Lord Jeffery Amherst has come under fire for alleged war crimes committed against the Native Americans. Rather than disputing the actions of the figure he represents, McClellan had an interesting perspective. “I think of myself as more of an inspirational figure rather than an historical figure.”
Of course, perhaps the most important legacy of the Lord Jeff is a deep disdain for the enemy. When asked about our biggest rivals, McClellan did not mince words: “They’re isolationists, stupid jocks and hippie granola-eaters.”