You’ve seen him on the sidelines and in the stands, but every Foxy sighting starts similarly for Dutch Fork High School senior Michael Templeton.
“It’s a lot of work getting him dressed in it,” said Sarah Vore, who serves as an assistant to the beloved mascot. “There are a lot of components that go with it.”
But it’s second nature now for Templeton who has been dressing up as Foxy, the Silver Fox, for the last four years.
“It’s been possibly the most unique, interesting, amazing story probably anyone has ever had in high school,” said Templeton reflecting on his experience.
Templeton says he knew he wanted to be a mascot the first time he saw Cocky at a University of South Carolina football game. He got his opportunity to be Foxy his freshman year at Dutch Fork.
“He started in the 9th grade and it was the old costume,” said Templeton's mother, Pam.
When Templeton started as Foxy the suit was likely more than 15 years-old, according to DFHS principal Greg Owings. Templeton said the costume was hard to move around in.
“It made him decide to go ahead and get a new Foxy where he could actually be more agile,” added Pam. “He went out and raised a great deal of money.”
Templeton's mom said with the help of a local company, her son designed the new Foxy from head to toe.
“He just put his heart and soul into,” said Pam. “Never mind the fact that he would do all the research down to the Nike shoes to put on Foxy.”
Since then Foxy has appeared at community events regularly to share Dutch Fork pride and support others.
“The smile I get inside the costume, people don’t see it, when kids are hugging me and asking really weird questions that they don’t really ask normal people. That really makes my day,” said Templeton.
When the suits not on, Templeton works with his sister Katy on their non-profit K4Kids providing teaching resources for teachers and students around the state. That included donating books to Seven Oaks Elementary after the October flood of 2015.
“Cumulatively he’s at over 500 hours every year, the time he puts into most everything,” said Pam.
Altogether it’s why it was a no-brainer to name Foxy our latest Community Builder. He thought we were doing a story on school spirit when Matt Mungo from Mungo Homes walked in with a hard hat in hand.
“ I just wanted to say because of your work with children’s charities and your help with getting the books to flood victims at Seven Oaks Elementary, you have been awarded our Community Builder and you’ll get a $1,000 check to the charity of your choice,” said Mungo as he handed the hat to Foxy. “You look good in that!” he added as Foxy put the hard hat on.
Templeton said, inside the suit, he was speechless. “I didn’t see that coming at all,” he said.
Templeton said he’s grateful for his family, friends, teachers and others who have allowed him to live out his dream. He hopes to find a new suit to wear in college, but letting go of Foxy won’t be easy.
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“It’s going to be rough…just thinking about it makes me cry,” said Templeton as he broke down in tears. “Cause he’s like my son. I don’t want to let him go.”
But it’s a legacy that will live on thanks to a teen, his dream and a community that’s let him live it out.