For the last four basketball seasons, senior Gabe DeTolla has donned the Seton Hall Pirate costume and helped the cheerleaders and fans root for the basketball teams. If it weren’t for his sense of humor, he may not have even stayed at the University.
“My freshman year, I absolutely hated my life,” DeTolla said. “This was not the school for me. It was too small. I wanted to get out. I wanted to go do other things and I wanted to go south.”
DeTolla said that he relayed his wishes to attend another school to his mother, who then told DeTolla to give Seton Hall one more chance. A few of his friends, including “Flag Man” Mike Mosca, decided to try out for the cheerleading team, which DeTolla said he found amusing.
“I went down there to go make fun of them,” he said. “I thought it was hysterical that they were trying out for the cheerleading team. I went down there and I’m filming it-I was going to put it up on YouTube.”
According to DeTolla, as he was filming his friends, the cheerleading coach came up to him and asked him what he was doing. DeTolla said he told the coach that he was filming his friends because he thought it was funny.
DeTolla said the coach asked him to do cartwheels to show what he can do, but DeTolla responded saying he wasn’t there to try out.
The coach then sized up DeTolla, pointing out his height, saying the team needed a mascot. The coach said that he would be paid for wearing the costume.
“Sign me up right now,” DeTolla said. “I didn’t have to do anything. Just went down there and got the spot like that.”
After his first game, DeTolla said he vomited from dehydration from wearing the Pirate suit.
“It’s like you just played a football game and a hockey game back to back,” he said.
DeTolla said he has many fond memories of being involved with Seton Hall basketball: meeting sideline reporter Craig Sager and complimenting his suit, senior Fuquan Edwin hitting a game-winning shot against Villanova in 2013 and the atmosphere of the home loss to Rutgers in 2012 in which he said he crowd surfed.
None of those are his favorite moment. That came this year, March 14, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament when sophomore point guard Sterling Gibbs hit a game-winning, step-back jumper to down top-seeded Villanova.
In that game, DeTolla and Mosca reenacted a play in which Villanova’s JayVaughn Pinkston flopped after getting tangled up with Seton Hall’s Eugene Teague.
DeTolla said he advises the next mascot to go out there and have as much fun doing the job as possible, because time moves quickly.
“You have to live in the moment,” he said. “It’s already gone for me and I can’t believe it went that darn quick.”
His fun as mascot may be over, but DeTolla, a television production major, said he’s looking for a job as a production assistant at a television network or a marketing director at a college, but he also has other ideas.
“If that doesn’t work out, I’d be more than happy to walk into Philadelphia and say ‘hey, do you need a Phillie Phanatic?'”
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.