The Daily Gamecock

A sneak peek into the life, tradition of Sir Big Spur

While many Gamecock fans know to look for Sir Big Spur on the sidelines during a Saturday football game in Williams-Brice Stadium, most know very little about the history of how the Gamecock became a mascot.

"We see that as a large part of what we have done and continue to do is to educate Gamecock fans about their mascot," Mary Snelling, one of Sir Big Spur's owners, said.

Snelling and Ron Albertelli have been the proud owners of Sir Big Spur, who represents South Carolina at sporting events year-round, for about 22 years.

Snelling's father first got her a gamecock in the 1990s. At the time, Ray Tanner was still the head coach of South Carolina's baseball team, and Snelling and her father won a contest allowing them to have dinner with Tanner. 

Shortly after, Tanner allowed the Snellings to begin bringing the gamecock to each game they attended. At the time, he was named Cocky Doodle Lou to honor former Gamecock football coach Lou Holtz. 

Now, the mascot attends home baseball games, in addition to home and away games during football season.

On a typical Saturday in the fall, Sir Big Spur can be found in the midst of all the game day action.

About two hours before kickoff, the mascot joins his owners outside Williams-Brice. Albertelli and Snelling answer questions from fans about Sir Big Spur and allow people to take pictures with him.

One hour before the start of the game, Albertelli and Snelling head into the stadium and set up by the flagpole near the student section and the band.

When Sir Big Spur first began attending football and baseball games, he was brought onto the field in a dog carrier. The addition of a goal post came a little bit later. 

"That goal post had to have an 80-pound counterbalance weight on the bottom of it to keep it from tipping over, so that was quite an effort to walk down George Rogers Boulevard every Saturday," Albertelli said.

Sir Big Spur now has a motorized, remote-controlled cart that was built by Albertelli in an effort to make transportation easier on game days. The design for the cart was created by a few students in South Carolina's College of Engineering and Computing.

The Old English black-breasted red gamecock currently lives on a 28-acre farm in Aiken, but that will soon change.

Albertelli and Snelling will soon be handing the tradition over to Van and Beth Clark, who are both graduates of South Carolina and avid Gamecock fans.

"They invited us to the first football game last year to see exactly what they do," Van Clark said. "My wife, Beth, loves animals, so taking care of animals is not a problem."

Sir Big Spur will make the move to a 16-acre farm in Edgefield, South Carolina, where the Clarks already own several other chickens.

Despite a few setbacks in the transition process due to coronavirus restrictions, the Clarks are anxious to take over and carry on what Albertelli and Snelling have started.

"We really want to make it one of the best mascot programs in the country and really invest in it and try to move it forward and make it a model for other universities," Van Clark said.