The Ranger Inside the Clements Ranger


Laurenz Quinto

Two hands on the floor, legs extending upwards, followed by a circular wave of the body, and finally into a half-split. This “quote-unquote signature move” can be seen performed by the Clements High School Mascot, or as the Rangers call him, Vato.


Vato is a ranger clad in a typical cowboy hat, brown boots, chaps, a blue-checkered, long-sleeve shirt, and to top it all off, a mustache perched right above his upper lip. As a Clements Ranger, he attends our team’s games for support and to represent our school however best he can.


Of course, a head with a hat and clothes is not actually the one behind such actions. Vato is not actually Vato. In fact, there is another Clements Ranger under the mascot who has to endure the “incredibly hot” conditions inside that head.


This Ranger goes by the name Sydney Bynes, and she is in her junior year at Clements High School.


Her personality could be credited to why she is an excellent fit for the mascot. Though, she sometimes opts to “push back” when her nervousness gets the best of her during which she is facing an unfamiliar situation.


“I love having fun and I love being outgoing,” says Bynes when asked if she has stage fright. “I have butterflies in my stomach but I’m not afraid to put myself out there.”


Many of Bynes’ interests include softball, theater, Student Voices, and PALS. She was particularly excited about being chosen as one of the three representatives from our school in the diversity conference in October. Her affinity to leadership and sense of community is evident in her passion for PALS as she has wanted to be part of the club since seventh grade.


“Kids have a really deep place in my heart,” she said. She even reveals that her aunt has just adopted a baby named Julien, which led to more comments about how “kids are just really awesome.”


Although her membership to PALS was deliberate and in her plan since before high school, becoming the mascot was not.


“Actually, [that’s] a funny story,” Bynes said before proceeding to explain the start of her journey.


The previous mascot, a softball player such as she, approached her during the softball game and suggested that she audition to be the mascot. Initially, she was skeptical when the subject was brought up and even more so when there was another girl trying out for the title in her sophomore year.


One day, Ms. Mayo called her up and introduced her to the cheerleaders as the new mascot, much to her surprise.


“I was like, ‘Oh, woah, this is awesome!’” Bynes said.


Trying on the costume was not a convincing agent either. The first time she wore it, she thought, “I don’t know about this,” due to the heat and her inability to move at all inside the costume.


Despite her initial incredulity at being named the mascot, Bynes attended cheer camp where she received All American Mascot and was rewarded with a trip to Disney.


Her first experience as Vato was not in any way ideal, admitting that she made some mistakes during her first game. Her first mistake was wearing jeans under the costume in the already “blazing hot” weather and another was making a little girl cry.


But, she takes these mistakes and uses them as building blocks for her next performances inside the mascot.


“Now I know how to interact with the crowd, especially with little kids,” she said.


Bynes says that the mascot is usually one who has the mindset and build of an athlete and one who is willing to step out of their comfort zone. Anyone who wants to be a mascot should take note that they would have to be kind, able to move inside the costume in a way that expresses big emotions and large gestures and engage with the crowd often.


“I’m not going to lie: being the mascot is weird,” Bynes said.


Bynes’s future prospects are bright, hoping to be successful and have kids of her own. She plans to major in political science and minor in biology, a combination she cites that “doesn’t really mix together.” She does not have a set occupation at the moment but is leaning towards dermatology. Although, she harbors a great enthusiasm for political science and credits her mom for her interest in what political scientists do.


Typically, mascots are supposed to be anonymous, but for events that are unknown, nearly the entire school body knows of Bynes’ endeavor as the school mascot. Although the pressure to remain a secret is off her chest, there is a more intense weight to be an outstanding student in school and the community and represent the other organizations she is in.


Wherever she goes and whatever she may do, Bynes will carry on her time as the mascot well into the future.


She will have at her disposal first-hand experience of what it is like inside Vato’s head, the skills to interact with masses of people, perform under extreme conditions, and a sense of leadership for being the chosen representative of an entire school.


“Being the mascot has really opened up my personality a lot,” Bynes said.


Vato may be the Clements Ranger, but Sydney Bynes is the true ranger.