Rowdy reveal

Wright State student Carly Blessing, who has played Rowdy Raider for years, poised to graduate

After performing as Rowdy Raider, Wright State senior Carly Blessing aims to work as a character performer at Disney World.

Like Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, Carly Blessing had a secret, one that she’s kept for two and a half years. By day, Blessing is a Wright State University student. When not in class, she has an alter ego in which she does good deeds.

Blessing donned the costume and headpiece of Wright State’s ubiquitous mascot, Rowdy Raider. That’s about to come to an end because Blessing, a senior majoring in fine arts with a concentration in photography, is graduating this spring.

But that end means the beginning of her next step in a progression of being a costumed character that started when she was in eighth grade.

She enrolled in Wright State in 2021 as a sophomore after transferring from Indiana University East when she and her family moved to Miamisburg from Indiana.

She attended a Wright State open house and found some courses she was interested in.

“I always liked fine art and photography and am interested in graphic design,” she said.

Soon afterward, Blessing saw a video about Rowdy Raider and reached out to the Athletic Department to audition.

“For the audition I had to think of a routine, come up with songs to dance to, learn the school fight song,” she said. “It was so much fun. A few days after the tryout I got the part.”

She gleefully recalled her first event. “It was a volleyball game,” she said. “I stood on the side and interacted with the fans.”

Following that came a series of appearances at men’s and women’s home basketball games, baseball games, Wright State open houses, April Craze and others. As Rowdy she cheered on the baseball team when it played the University of Dayton at Day-Air Ballpark – “I wore a baseball uniform” – and the women’s basketball team in a Horizon League tournament game in Indianapolis.

“My favorite thing to do is interact with fans and students, especially kids,” Blessing said. “I like to give them high fives and hugs.”

Along with being silent as she performs as Rowdy, Blessing is also secretive. When someone asks her who she is, she politely shakes her head no.

The mystery ended during a break in the men’s basketball team’s final home game when Blessing and the members of the Competitive Cheer and Dance Teams were introduced and thanked publicly.

One thing Blessing is not secretive about is her desire to continue as a costumed character.

After graduation, she will work at Disney World in Florida with the likes of Mickey and Minnie and all the other characters.

Last year, she participated in an internship with the Disney College Program in sales at Epcot. This year, she is up for a role in attractions, as a photopass photographer or character attendant. Blessing will not know which job she is assigned until shortly before she arrives in Orlando in June.

She hopes to work as a character attendant, who are Disney employees who accompany the costumed characters.

“My main goal,” she said, “is to be a character performer.”

Blessing has quite a track record of landing such roles. “I’ve pretty much been a mascot all my life,” she said.

The first time was in eighth grade when she volunteered to play the mascot of her older sister’s high school dance team in Indiana.

“They told me they didn’t have anyone who wanted to do it, so I said yes,” she said.

Later she was her high school’s mascot, a Patriot, and Indiana University East’s Red Wolf mascot at basketball and volleyball games for a year and a half. She also spent a spring as the Dayton Dragons’ mascot, Heater.

As she approaches graduation, Blessing credits Wright State with helping her develop into the person she has become.

“Wright State really helped me a lot,” she said. “They made sure I’m on top of everything and successful.”

Her suggestion for anyone who aspires to succeed her as Rowdy: “Someone who has an outgoing personality, likes to dress up in a costume, get hot and sweaty, has a lot of energy, likes to interact with kids, fans, other students and keep your identity a secret.”

Blessing added, “As I always say: Raider Up!”

Comments are closed.