Extra questions with Paula Davids: ‘Big Red’s Mom’

Paula Davids

Emily Patton

Paula Davids is a marketing assistant in WKU’s Athletic Marketing program but often goes by another nickname: Big Red’s Mom.

Q: What does it mean to be “Big Red’s Mom”?

A: I am in charge of the day-to-day operations of the mascot program. I’m ever-present — close by or not. In the basketball arena, I will always be watching Big Red where she or he is or if it’s time for a promotion. If I don’t see someone close to (Big Red), I try to run after them and get them in a certain position. In the stadium, I will call the student walking around with Big Red and get (Big Red) away from any trouble that could come its way. Or if things escalate with another team’s mascot, I can find a path to get them out of that situation.

Q: What brought you to this position at WKU?

A: I went to WKU from 1979 to 1981 as a student and worked as a student worker in public information at that time, as they were creating Big Red. I was in the office that had to approve the different phases of the mascot. Then I worked at another company that was downsized, so I went back to school at WKU. I started doing a project in class on athletic marketing, started volunteering, eventually got hired on and been here since 2002.

Q: How does it feel to be there at WKU to observe the

progression of the  Big Red  mascot?

A: I remember talking to Ralph Carey, the creator of Big Red, watching him bring in the Big Red costumes, but I really never realized the impact that, that would have on me later in life. They had tried other mascots and failed miserably. No one even had it in the back of their minds that we were going to get the best thing that ever happened to this university, marketing-wise, in Big Red. It’s really neat that I’ve got to see it come full circle.

Q: How important is Big Red’s participation in the Capital One Bowl to the mascot program and WKU?

A: It’s extremely important. Just for participation and being selected, they get hundreds of applications. We are fortunate to have been in every one except two since 2002. … It is a win for the mascot program and for the university. If you go abroad, you mention, WKU, people are like, ‘Where’s that?’ But if you mention Big Red, people go crazy because he is so recognizable and so different.

Q: What do you enjoy most about this position? What are the downsides?

A: It’s challenging to work with seven students that we have in the mascot program this year. It is hard to work with their class and work schedules. I probably get three or four requests a day for Big Red to attend a place. What people don’t realize is, Big Red has classes. I hate having to tell someone we can’t do an event. But I enjoy nearly everything about this job. At one time they wanted to take me away from the Big Red operation side and move me more into the promotions side. When we sat down, I told them that if you take Big Red away from me, this job means nothing to me. They never approached me again to change areas of responsibility.