Article by Julie Spessard

Photography by Nicole Wierick

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

“Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar; all for the Bobcats, stand up and holler!” This familiar chant echoes on Fridays in Celina. The athletes in their uniforms, cheerleaders with their poms, students, parents and community in the stands wearing the Celina orange are all constants. Since the early 1970’s, Bobcat Bennie has been part of our spirited landscape as well. 

Susie Miller Hester, a familiar face here in Celina, was the first person to wear a Bobcat suit, an idea proposed within the community. “My mom worked for the district for a long time and served as the Junior High drill team instructor. Mom had a friend who found a suit, a Bobcat suit. She told me I should wear it and I did. I would put the suit on in the back of the car and make my way into the game.” Susie shared the experiences in the suit back in 1973-1974 were nothing like the experiences now. The Bobcat was still found on the sidelines during a game, but not at every game and not at pep rallies; it was still in its infancy. “I wore the lightweight suit for the year and that was it. The people really seemed to like it. It was new and different.” 

About ten years after Susie first paraded in that bobcat suit, a campaign began to name the Bobcat. The community got behind the movement. The mascot was named in honor of Bennie Brewer, a long time dedicated Celina supporter known to wear orange suits and tirelessly cheer on the Bobcats. And so it goes that in 1984, our mascot was no longer a nameless Bobcat suit, but officially became Bobcat Bennie! 

Bennie engages in various antics and stunts to engage everyone. Bobcat Bennie brings joy and excitement to the young and not so young. Since Spring of 2020, Gracie Myers has served as Bobcat Bennie, having worn the Bobcat all four years of her high school career. “It’s an important role because Celina has only one school district and one high school. Bennie is the representative of all things here, and Bennie represents Celina and CHS in other communities!” 

Through the years, many have worn the costume and served the role. It is a responsibility that takes a lot of time and commitment. Gracie probably averages twenty-five appearances each semester on behalf of the school and community. She also attends cheer camp every summer with cheerleaders to hone her skills and gain specific coaching on crowd engagement resulting in being named as an All-American for two straight years. Serving in this role continues to require flexibility and time. When our community was staying at home in 2020, Bennie was engaging with the community through social media to keep the spirit! 

Gracie will be graduating in May of 2024 and at that time the torch will pass to a new Bennie. “I hope that the next Bennie loves it as much as I have. I do it because I love to entertain people, I love the kids, and I get to be silly and goofy. I love to do this for the community, but I also love doing it for me.” 

Bobcat Bennie was, is, and will remain a symbol of spirit and excitement. Many have worn the Bobcat over the years. The uniform and costumes have changed and evolved, but the mission of Bobcat Bennie remains the same. Bennie supports the identity of CHS and has a huge presence at athletic events, campus activities and various community events. Go Bobcats!

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