Robert Boudwin has been "Clutch" the mascot of the Houston Rockets for more than 20 years. And it's easy tell.
"I love doing this," he said in a recent interview with Mascotinsider.com. "A lot of people diss being a mascot, but I consider it an important role. There probably aren't many kids out there who say 'I'd like to grow up to be a mascot, but for me it's the ultimate."
Boudwin started as a mascot for his high school, eventually moving on in the same role for his college, the University of Delaware. Finally, as a senior in college, he tried out for a mascot role for the Houston Rockets, which he started more than 20 seasons ago, and hasn't looked back yet.
It's a good thing that he enjoys it since there's almost never a Rockets even of any sort that Clutch doesn't make an appearance. He calls it more than a job, it's a calling. And that calling has taken him across the country and around the world many times, entertaining for practically every kind of group, from the homeless to military troops.
Boudwin is so serious about his craft that he teaches the "art" of mascoting every year at a "boot camp" for potential mascots from schools across the country, even though he calls it a means of paying back. "I've had a lot of great mentors in my time, and that inspires me," he added. "A lot of people have helped me along the way, so I think I owe them. I guess you could call it 'paying forward.'"
"I hate to make it sound like it's a religious thing, but in a way it is," he explained. "In fact, if you think about it, it has to be since it's not easy to put on a character's suit, walk out onto a basketball court, and try to be funny or otherwise get an keep the fans attention. You have to be devoted to it or it doesn't work."
Needless to say, Clutch does it, to the tune of hundreds of appearances every year. It doesn't matter whether it's an event for the city, parties, and anything else, Boudwin says that nobody gets shortchanged when it comes to his work. "I consider it an important job since when I'm out there, wherever there might happen to be, I'm representing the Rockets, and I consider that an important responsiblity."
Boudwin explained that he doesn't see how he feels as a mascot much differently than with others. "I think that most mascots feel the same way I do," he said. "A mascot has to go out there and there's a mutual dependence between him and the crowd, and the team also. When I can get the crowd going, it gets the team going also. Everybody feels it, and that's a great feeling for me too. When I can get that mutual excitement going, everybody wins, and I can say I did my job."