Tuesday, July 6, 2010

REGINA PATS MASCOT - ROLLIE BOURASSA

Julie Folk: for the Regina Leader-Post

Published: Thursday, September 18, 2008

It all started back in the year 1978,” stated Rollie Bourassa, Regina Pats Mascot. “The name of the mascot has changed names several times.” Bourassa, a commercial artist at the time, was asked to design a mascot for the Pats that would also reflect Labatt (Breweries), their sponsor. The original K-9 (meaning dog, as in canine), was called "Big Blue." The color reflected the team and Labatt, and pop culture at the time, with the movie Big Blue and the country western song "My Dog Blue," dictated the choice of animal and the nickname. (Photo: Kevin Shaw - Collection)

"I did K-9 for a couple of games to see it worked OK. Whatever I was doing, they thought it was OK, and they asked, 'would you keep doing it until we find somebody?' Thirty some years later, they're still trying to find some one!" said Bourassa. "But it was fun, and my wife (Bea) and I were hockey fans anyway, so we were going to games. She still comes to the games and sits in the stands.

After Bourassa's a while, Rollie soon realized he needed smaller feet for going up and down the stairs. But his designs to see through the nose and the chin (to see his feet) have been major assets in the Brandt Centre, while he runs, bounces, skates and slides down railings.

The Pats aren't the only team K-9's been a part of. At the start of the 1980's, the Canadian Olympic team needed a mascot while playing across Canada. K-9 changed jerseys, and Bourassa hopped on flights to get around the country on weekends. (Photo: Regina Leader Post - Roy Antal)

Over the years, sponsorship changed and another brewery became a major sponsor of the WHL. Blue was out, and for awhile it seemed as if K-9 would be put to sleep. But then Bourassa got a call asking if K-9 could be made a different color, so K-9 became red, and showed up again at the start of the season. Despite the fact the change came about 20 years ago, Bourassa said he still hears calls from people at "Big Blue."

K-9's antics have changed a bit over time. At one time, rinks had organists to play music throughout the arena.

"The organist would watch for me, and if he couldn't find me, he'd start playing, 'Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?' " said Bourassa. "And when the referee made a bad call he's start playing 'Smoke gets in your eyes,' and I'd be out there wiping my eyes. But pretty soon we were told we couldn't ridicule anyone and the music changed."

What has stayed the same is Bourassa's spirit and energy while bounding through the arena, giving high fives and hugs, playing the drums, and raising the spirit of fans. At 72, Bourassa said he still feels like a kid, and K-9 is probably a large reason for that. When people ask when he's going to retire, Bourassa replies, "When I can't do it anymore.