Matt Bruening put on the mask; became another person

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

Imagine living your entire college career behind a mask, hiding your identity.

That is exactly what senior Matt Bruening had to do.

SIC SIC character Herman Munster was recently unmasked at a home hockey game, revealing Bruening as Mr. Munster himself.

Bruening joined SIC SIC at the end of his freshman year. He wanted to get involved because he went to football games his first year at the University and saw the spirit group. He thought SIC SIC was a “unique” organization because “no other university does anything like that.”

“If you’re not an outgoing person, let’s say you know around other people, but you put a mask on and sometimes you see another side of yourself that maybe you didn’t know about,” Bruening said.

Bruening said that the moment he and fellow senior Kimmy Zaccaro, who played Miss Piggy, were unmasked was “bittersweet.”

“When you’re a sophomore or junior, that point just seems so far away,” Bruening said. “We literally like dedicate multiple days a week, and for that moment to finally come, it just meant a lot for me and for Kim.”

One of Bruening’s favorite parts about being Herman Munster was just knowing that he was a part of “one of the most unique traditions on campus.” He said sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what it felt like being a part of that for three years.

Bruening said that one of his most memorable moments in SIC SIC was his first football game.

“My most memorable experience was walking out onto the field for the first time,” Bruening said. “When we got to the field it was dark, and there were just like thousands and thousands of people. At first it was nerve-wracking, I mean, because … you’re one of the people on the field that people are looking at. You’ve always got to be entertaining I guess in some fashion.”

Bruening said that it was very tough hiding his identity since he got involved with the spirit group. He said he was lucky enough to have his roommate, Dylan Burley, as his secret keeper.

Burley, who is also a senior, met Bruening freshman year when they lived across one another in Kohl Hall. Burley was informed of Bruening’s involvement their sophomore year when Bruening’s schedule began to get hectic and he had to start making up lies about where he went.

Burley said he is a better liar than Bruening, so being a secret keeper was not so difficult for him. He said the pressure was obviously on Bruening more, so he had fun with it.

“It was fun to come up with different scenarios and get people to kind of back off the situation,” Burley said. “I mean I think even at one point, I think I had even told people that he had tried out [for SIC SIC] and had not gotten it.”

Burley said that the hardest lies he came up with were often over the weekends when Bruening told people he was at study groups and people didn’t believe him. However, Burley said he never slipped up on Bruening’s secret.

“It wasn’t my thing to say. That was his thing, so no I never really told anybody even up to the day of [the unmasking],” Burley said.

Bruening and Burley eventually discovered that they both had actually tried out for SIC SIC. Burley, who was not named a member, said that he actually did not consider himself a part of the group just because he was a secret keeper. He said he just enjoyed being friends with the members [even though he only knew the real identities of Herman Munster and Miss Piggy].

Bruening said he never doubted Burley, and that it was a relief on his end to have someone to trust with his secret.

SIC SIC Adviser Michael Ginsburg, who has been involved with the group for just over 12 years, said that the secret keepers play a role in their organization.

“I think the secret keepers play a huge role and the secret keepers go back to really almost the beginning of the group in 1946,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg, who is leaving the University this year, said he does have a small say who gets selected to join the group, but the SIC SIC members at the time select who to bring into their group.

Bruening was chosen as a member because he gave intelligent answers and was ultimately very enthusiastic.

“He was able to articulate how he was going to balance the seriousness of the task at hand with you know promoting the sort of the fun and the spirit that SIC SIC does,” Ginsburg said. “From what I can recall, those were the reasons why he rose to the top that year.”

Despite being unmasked earlier this semester, Bruening will remain as Herman Munster for the remainder of his time at BG until graduation, although now he can remove his mask if he so chooses. Bruening said that having the ability to show his identity will be “different” because now everyone will know who is doing all of the crazy moves, but that it will still be fun.