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Crowd Pleaser

Crowd Pleaser

By Miles Doyle

Joseph Franquinha, FCRH ’04, has performed as Maddie, the New York Liberty’s mascot, since 2003.
MSG Photos
For more than 45 years, 15 young men and women have performed as the Fordham Ram. Only one, however, has gone on to strut his stuff regularly at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Joseph Franquinha, FCRH ’04, who served as the Fordham mascot from 2002 to 2004, currently performs as Maddie, the mascot for the WNBA’s New York Liberty, during the team’s home games at Madison Square Garden.

He’s quickly become a fan favorite.

For 40 minutes a night, 17 times a season, Franquinha interacts with the players, dances with the Torch Patrol, the Liberty's performance team, launches T-shirts into the crowd, attempts acrobatic dunks and, when called upon, gets in the face of whistle-happy referees.

“A mascot dictates certain emotions at certain times,” Franquinha said. “If it’s dramatic, you want people to feel that. If you want them to be angry at a blown call, you need to convey that. You have to dictate their energy.”

It’s all just part of the gig, according to Franquinha, who received the Patrick Keanneally Award from Fordham in 2004, in recognition of his service to the athletics department.

“A good performance,” he said, “takes a lot of work.”

Now in his seventh season with the Liberty, Franquinha started working for the team in the summer between his junior and senior years at Fordham, after Liberty officials saw him perform during a basketball game at the Rose Hill Gymnasium. Per his usual routine at the time, Franquinha joined the Fordham Dance Team at center court as they danced to Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” He later moonwalked to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

“I guess they liked what they saw,” Franquinha deadpanned. “I’ve been Maddie ever since.”

When he’s not in character, Franquinha manages Crest Hardware, his family-owned business in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He also co-curates the store’s eponymous art show, which showcases the work of local artists—both in the store’s aisles and in its larger loading/storage area.

Still, come game night, his job as a professional mascot takes pride of place. It has to.

“It’s not something you can do if you don’t enjoy it,” he said. “Your attitude exudes through the fur, and the character shows it.”

—Miles Doyle, FCRH ’01, is the associate editor of FORDHAM magazine.

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