Kittanning mascot's role not all glamour
By Joyce Hanz
Published: Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
Derrick Reefer is in touch with his wild side. He's the young man inside the Wildcat mascot costume for the 2013-14 school year at Kittanning High School.
“My friends recommended I try out, and I was chosen on the spot mainly due to my sense of humor and confidence,” Reefer said. “It's my senior year, too, and I thought I should go for it.”
Derrick, 18, of Kittanning tried out for the Wildcat gig when he was a junior but was not selected. A senior was chosen, but that didn't deter Derrick.
Derrick showed off his agility at tryouts by doing “tricks, jumps, cartwheels, and I did a few cheers, too,” he explained.
Is it all fame and glamour? Not so much.
“It was kinda awkward and very hot in that suit,” Reefer said after a recent pep rally at Kittanning High to kick off the football season. “It's hard to see out of the outfit, but I will get used to it. Everyone said I did really well so I am not going to worry.”
Derrick will mascot at both home and away games representing Kittanning High School.
Wildcat Derrick, alongside the Kittanning High School cheerleaders, worked the crowd at the rally and interacted with the kids.
“The younger children are thrilled to see Wildcat! And one lady had me hold her baby for a photo.”
Kittanning freshman Alexa Scaife watched her school's mascot in action at the pep rally.
“It's more interesting having a mascot. Our mascot represents the school and not all high schools even have one.”
Derrick's mother, Debbi Reefer, explained why she is thrilled Derrick is representing Kittanning as mascot.
“Kittanning and Ford City will consolidate in two years with the construction of the new high school. This is the second to the last year they will have a mascot — and a rivalry — so I'm glad he's able to be a part of the school's history and represent Kittanning High School in its final years.”
Imitating a cat on the football sidelines should come easy for Derrick. He has volunteered fostering kittens in the family home the past two years for Orphans of The Storm, a no-kill animal shelter in Kittanning.
“Three years ago, we fostered puppies. We had 11 lab-mix puppies, crazy!” Derrick said.
After a year of fostering puppies, the kittens were next. The fostered felines live and thrive in the Reefer household until they can be placed with an adoptive family.
Currently, Derrick is fostering a 14-week-old male kitten named Blake, a stray brought to the shelter with barely any human contact. Derrick and the rest of the family have showered Blake with love and attention.
“Blake is a completely different cat now,” Debbie Reefer said. “He follows us around the house and is a cuddly cat.”
Derrick holds down a part-time job washing dishes at Ponderosa Restaurant. His hobbies include running, hunting and fishing. He plans to pursue a degree in either chemical or nuclear engineering, possibly attending IUP.
Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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