Birthday Q&A with Nellie, the live mascot for JU

Feb. 27, 2008

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - editor Joel Lamp sat down with Nellie, JU's live mascot, for an interview about her life, being the JU mascot and how tough it is being the top dolphin.

Q: Nellie, first thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. You've got a busy schedule here at Marineland, don't you?

NELLIE: First, thanks for coming down to visit. It's always good to meet some friends from JU and have them make the trip down. My schedule is busy. I've got my morning workout to keep my girlish figure. I've got a light lunch, you know to keep the calories and cholesterol down. It's not easy being a celebrity dolphin, that is for sure. It's takes a lot of hard work and dedication to do this.

Q: At 55, what are your goals now?

NELLIE: When you get to be my age, you're just thankful for each day. I just try to get the most out of each day and get as much enjoyment out of it as I can. I've thought about getting a place down in south Florida and moving closer to my family, but I really like it here and don't think I make a big move like that now.

Q: How great of an honor has it been for you to be the JU mascot?

NELLIE: I love Jacksonville University and all the people associated with it. I'm one of the original fans that has been there through thick and thin. I was there when Roger Strickland was putting up points left and right. I remember Artis, Rex, Vaughn, Rod, Pembrook and the rest of that 1970 team that went all the way to the championship game. I have fond memories of the 1976 baseball team that just missed going to Omaha, which is one place I want to go. I've always heard they have great steaks.

It's been a great thrill to me personally to be a representative for JU. The University has meant so much to me, that I don't know where I would be without them. I've heard that they named a restaurant after me on campus, which is nice, as long as they don't serve any mahi mahi.

Q: What is your favorite moment from JU?

NELLIE: I think it would have to be when I got my degree in 1970. That was such a special moment for me.

I had told my mother when she was ill that I would go to school and get my college education. I fulfilled that promise and know that she was looking down from the big sea in the sky smiling.

Q: There is a dolphin mascot that dresses up for JU games named Dunk'n. Do you guys have a history?

NELLIE: Wow, no soft questions here. Dunk'n and I dated for quite while back in the 80s, but it was hard to maintain a long-distance relationship. Dunk'n is a very good looking dolphin, but I'm sad to see all the plastic surgery he's undergone lately to keep looking young. (tearing up) He has such a big heart and will always hold a special place in my life.

Q: Nellie, thanks so much for taking the time to join us. From everyone at Jacksonville University, we would like to wish a happy 55th birthday!

NELLIE: Thanks so much for coming to visit. Come back down here to Marineland any time to visit! I love you guys!