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Meet The Mini Nittany Lion Stealing The Hearts Of Penn Staters

Penn State fans with keen eyes might have noticed a smaller version of the mascot you know and love at some recent sporting events. The Nittany Lion is iconic (and a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame), but Penn State’s own Mini Nittany Lion has been stealing the hearts of fans everywhere.

The Mini Nittany Lion, or “Mini” for short, has been spotted at several Penn State sporting events over the last couple of seasons, slowly building up its own little fanbase.

The homemade mascot goes by many names, including Mini Nittany Lion, Little Cub, Mini, and Buddy, but never by their own name. Just like the real Symbol of Our Best, Mini chooses to keep their identity a secret.

Similarly, Mini doesn’t talk, but rather uses the same charismatic hand gestures as the real Nittany Lion. This weekend, Mini’s parents kindly translated for us.

“We made [the costume] for Halloween in October of 2018. I made the head and all from a softball helmet and found a couple of different suits from a couple of different Halloween costumes, so it sort of started like that,” Mini’s dad said. “It was originally just meant to be a Halloween costume.”

via the Mini Nittany Lion

Mini’s mother recounted the costume’s first appearance at Penn State at a football game in fall 2019. After a couple more appearances, the COVID-19 pandemic started, temporarily halting many things in everyone’s lives, including the presence of the Mini Nittany Lion at Penn State athletic events.

Mini has made appearances at many sports, but it’s rare to see a Penn State wrestling dual without the Little Lion in attendance. This season, the family has dipped into other sports around campus, including trips to Pegula Ice Arena for Penn State hockey.

“We’re big wrestling fans,” Mini’s mom said. “But, I would say that hockey is becoming a really fun new sport for our family this year.”

Wrestling has returned to a full, in-person crowd after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mini’s mother expressed how grateful they were to be back in Rec Hall for Penn State wrestling. Mini is very excited, too, wasting no time in getting back into the swing of things, taking pictures with fans, and even getting out on the mat with the Nittany Lion at wrestling’s matchup against Indiana.

“[At the Indiana Match], it brought tears to my eyes for the first time when they came and took Mini out onto the mat,” said the Little Lion’s mom. “To see Mini go on to the wrestling mat and shake hands with the Lion, I was tearing up. I don’t know how Mini and the Lion do it, because they obviously don’t practice. But somehow, they are in tune with each other, dancing and mocking each other.”

via the Mini Nittany Lion

Mini also expressed how much fun it was to sit in the student section and hang out with the Nittany Lion. While the Little Lion stuck to the tradition and didn’t say anything, Mini’s mom translated how much joy and happiness Mini had being in that environment while making other fans happy.

The Little Lion’s dad says there may be a new head on the way for the costume, but for now, there’s no doubt that the Mini Nittany Lion will be found at many Penn State events to come.

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About the Author

Mikey DeAngelis

As well as being a contributor to Onward State, Mikey DeAngelis is also the creator of the Mad About Disney YouTube channel and an aspiring filmmaker. Mikey loves Philly sports, traveling and hiking in National Parks, and watching movies. To reach Mikey, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@mikey_deangelis) or by email ([email protected]).

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