Alumna rare female to have portrayed Freddie


Marilyn Tabbert had the honor of playing Freddie Falcon during three hockey games until the usual person who played him learned to ice skate.

William Channell and William Channell

As a school mascot it’s often difficult to keep your identity a secret, as Marilyn Tabbert learned when she played Freddie Falcon, a largely male-dominated role.

In the winter of 1973, Tabbert was given the honor of being Freddie Falcon for three hockey games when Dewey Potts, the student who normally played Freddie, found himself in an unusual spot.

“This mutual friend came to me once during the winter of ’72-’73 and said, ‘Dewey doesn’t know how to skate,’” Tabbert said. “[My friend] said, ‘would you be interested in doing some of the hockey games until he can get that down?’”

Tabbert, a figure skater, accepted the invitation to be Freddie temporarily, and was told how to play the character, including where the costume was kept, and general do’s and don’t’s to keep in mind when in character. One thing emphasized was the voice.

“One thing [my friend] did make very clear is never to talk in my regular voice or let them know I was a girl,” Tabbert said.

This important guideline came into play one night when Tabbert, in full Freddie getup, was making her way to the ice arena for her first hockey game. As she was crossing Mercer and Ridge St., she fell into a ditch. The campus police who came to help told Tabbert it looked like she was stuck.

“Yeah,” said Tabbert in a gruff voice, trying to hide her identity. “Are there any people there?”

After the officers told her there were, in fact, students watching the incident, Tabbert had the police get rid of them and help her out of the ditch. But it didn’t get better after that.

“I was already late to the game, and I knew Dewey would be there,” Tabbert said. “I wanted to make a good impression, so I decided, ‘okay, I’m going to climb up, at that time, to [where] the organist sat on top of what was the concession stand.’”

When Tabbert made it to the top, however, she didn’t expect there would only be rafters to walk on. The organist had to help her on and off the top of the concession booth.

“Well, that [was] over, but at least it made a lasting impression I’m sure,” Tabbert said. “Freddie didn’t usually go up there. Now I know why.”

Though during Tabbert’s time as Freddie it may have been easier to try stunts like that, Michael Ginsburg, assistant dean of students, said students chosen to serve as school mascots are now formally trained at camps. Here they learn character development, recognizing personal space, and routines for the mascot to perform.

Despite this, he said the role of the mascot has remained unchanged.

“They’re meant to be the embodiment of the institution,” Ginsburg said. “They probably get into a little less antics than they did, but I think largely the role is to get the crowd excited, and supporting the teams if they’re there. And so I think that fundamental core has stayed the same.”

Freshman Ryan Struffolino agrees, and said mascots are there to pump up the crowd.

“It just gives the team some motivation,” Struffolino said.

While a school mascot exists to help keep the student body excited, being Freddie meant something more to Tabbert. It meant being a part of University history.

“It just gave me more of a tie to BGSU,” she said. “It just holds a special place for me. You just feel like you’re really a part of the University.”