Brown Walters, director of spirit programs, said the idea of Rameses Jr. was about a year in the making.
“We noticed Rameses is so in demand, and he’s always so desired at games and things like that, that we wanted to reach out to more of the Carolina community,” Walters said.
Walters said the spirit committee sought to find a way to alleviate the demand and simultaneously get involved with more of the Carolina fan base. They were also interested in increasing the appeal of Rameses to small children, who often found the full costume too intimidating and a little scary, he said.
“When we designed RJ, the concept was to try and be receptive to children,” Walters said. “You’ll notice it’s got blue horns; it’s got blue eyes; it’s less muscular; it wears Jordan brand shoes. It’s really to try and reach out to the kids.”
Walters said two more students were taken on as mascots to cover the addition. He said the training for both mascots is the same.
Laura Fellwock, co-chairperson of Carolina Fever, said Carolina Fever is giddy with the prospect of including more “Fever kids” in the fold with RJ.
“By bringing in Rameses Jr., it kind of builds up better connection with the Carolina Kids Club,” Fellwock said.
“When they’re coming to Fever events, when they’re coming to just Carolina events in general and they’re 8, 10, 12 whatever they may be, we want somebody like Rameses Jr. for them to be able to identify with.”
She said she thinks RJ is a way to get future UNC students even more deeply involved with the culture of Carolina and its spirit programs.
“When (the kids) become Carolina students and they want to join Fever they have that bond with Carolina athletics that makes it so much easier for them to get invested in that world, so we think it’s a great idea,” Fellwock said.
RJ is not alone in being one of multiple mascots for a single school. Many other colleges have employed multiple mascots to extend the reach of their spirit programs and spread school pride, said Scott Palanjian, assistant director of marketing for UNC’s athletic department.
“We saw it around the country at various schools, say Clemson or Kentucky where they have multiple mascots. We thought it was an opportunity for us to do something similar to what some other schools had already done,” Palanjian said.
RJ is a friendlier, more childlike counterpart to his older fellow Tar Heel Rameses. Walters said he’s designed to lighten his load around the community while spreading UNC spirit to youths.
“The primary reason to have RJ come into the fold was to help broaden our community outreach,” Walters said.