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You are now entering mascot world. There will be no talking, only actions.

Fourteen students competed for the honor of being a part of Team Knightro as they underwent tasks, such as pushups, stairwell runs, improv games and skits, during Saturday's tryouts. Most years, around eight students, including returning Knightros, are chosen to wear the iconic suit of armor.

To protect Knightro's identity, no names of current or potential Knightros are included in this article.

The day began with the prospective Knightros playing games involving charades and improv to test the students' non-verbal communication skills, teamwork abilities and creativity.

"When you're Knightro, it's important to know how to talk without words," Knightro's coach, Mike Callahan, said.

A current member of Team Knightro and senior construction engineering major, said the brutal Florida heat makes being in the black and gold suit challenging at times.

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The Knightro hopefuls got a little taste of the heat during their physical test of the day. It was 88 degrees with the sun at full force as the students were challenged to run up and down four flights of outdoor stairs five times, with seven pushups in between each of the rounds — one pushup for each point in a touchdown, including the possible extra point.

As the students' breathing became heavy and their sweat piled on, some voiced encouraging messages to boost their competitors' morale, such as: "You can do this!" and "Only one more round left, guys!"

Once the students were revitalized in an air-conditioned room in the Burnett Honors College, Callahan laid out props, including Knightro's foam sword and his large cardboard keys. He then instructed the students to create a skit where no music or speaking was allowed.

Throughout the afternoon, interviews were conducted by Callahan to gauge the students' enthusiasm and school spirit.

"When you're in costume, when you're that mascot, nothing else matters," said a prospective Knightro and freshman biomedical sciences major.

Another student, who is a freshman mechanical engineer major, said he came to tryouts because he wanted to be a part of something that was fun and interactive.

Callahan said he looks for self-motivated team players to fit the role of Knightro. He makes the decision of who will become Knightro soon after tryouts conclude.

Back during Callahan's time of being a member of Team Knightro in 2002 to 2004, the suit was 50 pounds of thick material. He said you couldn't even feel someone tap you on the shoulder in that suit.

When the Bright House Networks Stadium opened in 2007, Knightro's suit got a makeover too. Since then it's been made of foam and weighs around 25 pounds, which is a lot more manageable, Callahan said.

"Knightro is Knightro, and consistency is important for that," he said. "I don't want it to just be a bunch of people in a suit."

A sophomore hospitality major and current Team Knightro member said the hardest parts about being Knightro is keeping it a secret and mastering the technique of looking cool on Heelys, which is how Knightro rolls around in style during basketball games.

Team Knightro members have the opportunity to be trained by several professional mascots over the summer. Knightro has previously been taught by the Tampa Bay Rays mascot, Raymond; Orlando Magic's mascot, Stuff the Magic Dragon; and the Orlando Predator's mascot, Klaw.

Knightro also practices with the UCF cheerleaders throughout the year to learn how to be on the human pyramid that they create at football and basketball games. Through much practice, Knightro sometimes even flips off the pyramid, which really pumps up the crowd.

Callahan said while everyone loves Knightro, it all comes back to the individuals of Team Knightro going above and beyond when doing the work. The new Knightros will be chosen by Tuesday.

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Paige Wilson is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @paigeshortstackor email her at PaigeW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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