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Fenton InPrint Online

The student news site of Fenton High School

Fenton InPrint Online

The student news site of Fenton High School

Fenton InPrint Online

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Michael Bakker as Sparty


Whether someone is a Michigan or a Michigan State fan, members of the Fenton community may find it interesting to hear that FHS Principal Michael Bakker, represented Michigan State University by serving as the famed mascot, Sparty. He was part of the Sparty Mascot Program from 1998-2000.

Like any other team, there was a tryout process. After Bakker completed a written application, a tryout in-suit and a formal interview, he was among the few selected for the famous role. Bakker is not allowed to disclose how many students are selected to play Sparty.

 “It was unreal,” Bakker said. “I still remember to this day receiving the letter that I was selected to represent Michigan State University in such a large capacity.”

Bakker and the Sparty Squad attended a nationwide mascot camp at the University of Wisconsin, similar to a sports team attending a training camp. While there, he trained with professional mascots, as well as mascots from all over the country to perfect the art of bringing life and enthusiasm to Sparty. 

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Although the identity of Sparty is supposed to remain a mystery on campus and beyond, Bakker reveals that his immediate family was allowed to know about his secret. He also said that because he lived off campus with his cousin at the time, it was easier for him to keep his identity hidden from his fellow students. 

“The hardest part of keeping the secret was when my friends would ask me to join them at games and events,” Bakker said. “I would have to decline because I was scheduled to be Sparty.”  

Bakker indicated that a lot of excuses were made for missing events, including studying or working as a member of Sparty’s security team. Everyone who portrayed Sparty also worked security for the other Spartys, giving them a convenient cover story. 

The identity of Sparty is revealed at graduation by wearing the Sparty boots with their cap and gown. Bakker added “The reveal started two or three years after I was Sparty. It’s a huge thing now and something I wish I was able to do.”

When Bakker was asked what some of his favorite Sparty memories were, he said, “The rush of running out of the tunnel at football games was unbelievable, definitely something I will always remember. Outside of the athletic events I really enjoyed visiting the kids at Sparrow Hospital; just being able to bring smiles to their faces as Sparty impacted me more than any athletic event.” 

Bakker added, “One of the things that was neat for me is that you get to take on an alter ego persona. I could sit there in the suit without the head on and I’m just Mike Bakker; the second I put the head on it’s a complete transformation of who you are and what you do. You are no longer representing yourself, you are representing everyone at MSU and it was really cool to be able to do that. I would not trade that experience for anything.” 

Bakker is looking forward to the Sparty reunion that is held at an MSU football game every five years. 

“We work with the university to put on a banquet every five years; everybody who has been Sparty is invited and we all go to a football game afterward. Those are the people I still connect with the most— we all share this common bond and that’s something I will never forget.”

Bakker enjoyed every moment of being Sparty and encourages anyone thinking about becoming a mascot to give it a try. The experience, he indicated, is amazing, and the memories created will last a lifetime. 

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