The man, the myth, the eagle
Purdy's Lucas White embraces mascot role
Echo the Eagle is as visible as any player at Purdy High School basketball games.
Standing over 6-5, with a nearly 6-foot wing-span, Echo prides himself in striking fear into opposing mascots and rallying the fans to stand up and cheer.
Before every game, Echo saunters through the crowd as the loyal Purdy fans filter into the gymnasium. He constantly pauses for autographs, high-fives from young children and a long line of hugs and pictures from those in attendance.
Echo is a silent coach on the sidelines nodding his head in agreement with every call that goes the basketball teams' way. He lives and dies on every possession of the game.
During halftime and timeouts, he takes his broad and expansive knowledge of dance moves and thrills the crowd. His ability to shake his tail feathers, coupled with his tireless energy, is what has made him a staple and must-see attraction at games.
For the last five years, Lucas White has been the inspiration inside the Echo costume.
"I used to dance and jump around at games, and members of the Eagle Backers booster club took notice," White said. "They approached me in the eighth grade about being the mascot, and I immediately said yes."
According to the senior, he views his role as making the games more exciting.
"When there is a dead ball, timeout or halftime, I view it as my time to shine," White said. "If the other teams brings their mascots I always challenge them to a dance off. Those go over big with the fans."
White's most famous dance off came in 2010 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, when he challenged the Clopton Hawk to a dance off during the state semifinal.
"All I had heard was that the Hawk was a great dancer and good mascot," White said. "As we started dancing, we kept getting closer and closer. I went to the ground to do a spin move and when I came up my head hit the hawk in the beak and spun it around.
"The Purdy crowd went nuts. It was an accident, but people still talk about me clocking the hawk."
Aubie the Tiger, the Auburn University mascot, has served as an example for White.
"It takes a lot of energy to be a good mascot," White said. "You watch mascots like Aubie and realize that they are an athlete just as much as the players on the floor."
White hopes to continue his role as a mascot in college. He has already talked to a couple of schools about their requirements.
As for the next Echo, White says that there a couple of hatchlings waiting in the nest, but he isn't ready to give away the school's biggest secret.
"I want the role of the mascot at Purdy to be an honor," White said. "I want everyone who occupies this costume to keep raising the cheering bar."