Cosmo the Cougar is not only an athlete, dancer, flipper, dunker and performer — he is also a full-time student at BYU.
Adam Pettingill, a 22-year-old BYU sophomore studying biotechnology and a member of the BYU Dunk Team, expressed his feelings about BYU’s mascot.
“If you look at what Cosmo is doing compared to anyone else, it does not surprise me at all that he’s at the top. There is no one that you can even consider coming close to Cosmo because how much he literally pushes the limit to what mascots can do,” Pettingill said.
Pushing the limits sounds about right. One of Cosmo’s most viral stunts was in 2020, when he was thrown from the 3-point line by five men, catching a basketball mid-air and dunking it. ESPN posted a video of the stunt on Facebook and it received more than 4.6 million views. Cosmo explained once he was thrown into the air, he knew it was a “good launch.”
“I had control in the air and the right height. Next, I was focused on the ball. It was a blind catch, so I was concentrating on reacting the moment the ball touched my gloves. James Teichert (former member of Dunk Team) did a perfect throw straight to my hands,” the mascot said.
Cosmo shared he was thrilled when he landed the dunk.
“I got up to celebrate with the stadium and I thought whoa, this is insane … then it was all fun from there,” he said.
The stunt took a few months to prepare, Cosmo said, and it even “took around 50 throws for us to settle into a good rhythm.”
For another viral stunt, Cosmo did pushups up on five tables stacked on top of each other at a 2022 BYU Basketball game. When he reached the top of the stack, he did a big pushup jump in the air. He finished with a front dive off the tables to a mat. A video of the stunt was posted on a number of media platforms, from ESPN to Bleacher Report, and it reached more than 104 million views, according to Yahoo Sports.
Cosmo has something new up his furry sleeve at almost every home football and basketball game. Earlier this season, at BYU’s home football game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29, Cosmo did 12 backflips over flaming jump ropes.
Sometimes it is not easy handling the fame, training and performances on top of being a full-time student, Cosmo said.
“Honestly, some weeks are harder than others. Sometimes my classes and homework are a burden, and it’s definitely stressful. But it is all so worth it. Being able to bring smiles to people’s faces, or astonishment, or whatever it may be, is one of the greatest things about doing what I do,” he said.
Cosmo also shared some of his favorite things to do on a weekly basis.
“Every week on Tuesday and Thursday, I have the opportunity to go to elementary schools around Utah County. I go with some other athletes at BYU, including the BYU Dunk Team. They’re always fun. But we go and they share messages of what it means to be ‘cougar built,'” he said.
According to Cosmo, “cougar built” is being built to work, connect, love and learn, which is basically a guideline for healthy, good living.
“After they teach the kids these good values, I get to perform with the Dunk Team. We do flips, dunks and some crazy pass trains. It’s always really fun because the kids go crazy, and we get to also include the teachers and principal in some passes,” Cosmo said.
Cosmo said he loves not only the big shows and performances, but also the small personal moments.
“Sometimes I get to go celebrate someone’s birthday in their home or visit a child who loves Cosmo … those times are special to me, and it’s me who has an enormous smile under that big fur head,” he said.
David Eberhard, Cosmo’s coach and coach of BYU Dunk Team since 2008, shared the experiences and joys of coaching and training these athletes.
“It’s fun, every year brings a new challenge with different abilities and different talents and it allows me to re-create the wheel every year,” Eberhard said. “Sometimes it seems like more work, but it also allows for new material and new things to happen that either have never been done before or never in a way that we thought was possible.”
He also elaborated on what really makes being a coach worth it and talked about how much he cares for the men and women on the Dunk Team.
“When I see them growing personally, working with others and building their character, shaping who they are, how they treat others and where they go after here … It’s almost like being a dad to lots of kids … and for sure the most fulfilling thing about being a coach,” Eberhard said.
1953 marked the first time Cosmo made his official appearance to BYU fans. After all this time, Cosmo the Cougar is still wowing the crowd and doing what he does best.