Inside the lion’s den: an interview with Leo and Una


Photos courtesy of Joseph Roman Photography

Leo and Una are staples within the UNA family. They attend sports events, SOAR, visit days and more.

Alex Hopper, Staff Writer

Alexander Wood (bottom left) sports Leo’s costume. (Photos courtesy of Joseph Roman Photography)
Sailor Letson (bottom right) sports Una’s costume. (Photos courtesy of Joseph Roman Photography)

If the school’s student section is a team, then the mascot is the quarterback. A mascot embodies the spirit of fandom. They must be excited, passionate, and very high in energy.

Alexander Woods and Sailor Letson are exactly that.

Wood and Letson are this year’s Leo and Una. They are the familiar foam faces that liven up every football field and courtside.

Being a mascot can be difficult. There’s never a dull moment and the person that fills the suit must be able keep the crowd in the action at all times. So, what makes a good mascot?

Sailor Letson, a Sophomore from Moulton, Alabama, is Una. Though this is her second year being Una, being a mascot wasn’t something she had experienced before.

“I was actually in a very bizarre situation last year,” said Letson. “They had a mascot drop out.”

A previous mascot asked Letson if she wanted to try-out and she jumped at the opportunity.

“I had always loved all the Disney characters,” Said Letson. “I wanted to do something like that. Somehow, some way.”

Letson’s background in dance helped her in her new role. She had some experience portraying characters but, never a true mascot. 

After getting the job, Letson asked her “first new college friend” Alexander Wood to try-out as well.

“I knew he was just a firecracker of energy,” said Letson. “He would do so well.”

It is Wood’s first year as Leo and he also didn’t have any previous mascot experience.

“I was nervous when I had originally thought about it,” said Wood. “But once I finally got to ‘meet’ Leo, I knew it would grow into one of my favorite things.”

Letson’s favorite part of being a mascot is kids’ reactions to Leo and Una.

“There is this one little girl I met at a football game,” said Letson. “I have this video of me with this little girl and she showed me her roar.”

Getting to interact with the students in general, Letson said is always encouraging.

Letson says the students at UNA always do a good job of keeping the magic alive whenever they see the mascots.

Wood said his favorite part of being a mascot is the cheer team’s comradery.

“Picture day was really fun,” said Wood. “Getting to see the entire team together was really exciting.”

As with most things this year, sporting events have been impacted by COVID-19.

Since both football and basketball schedules have been affected, Letson and Wood’s mascot duties have been limited as well.

“Obviously, this year our schedule is a bit different,” said Wood. “Appearances by Leo and Una are few and far between.”

Letson also has high hopes for this year in spite of COVID-19.

“With COVID I’m not sure where we are going to get to go,” said Letson. “I’m hoping that we’re going to get to more than just football and basketball. I would like to build.”

Another change our school is experiencing this semester is the loss of UNA’s live mascot, Una.

“It’s so tricky,” said Letson. “Everyone feels like the lions are a part of our family.”

After hearing that Una had passed, Letson wondered what this meant for her job as a mascot.

“We all just decided to use the mascot to carry on her legacy,” said Letson. “I’m thankful I get to do that.”

A large factor in both Letson and Wood’s experience being a mascot is their coach Megan Dye.

“She cares about every single person on the team,” said Letson. “She wants us to be safe and she wants us to have fun.”

Letson said her overall experience has been made more comfortable by coach Megan’s attentiveness to every member of the cheer team.

“Even during some of the hard times of quarantine we all had a group zoom meeting to make sure everyone was okay,” said Letson. “It’s the little things like that where coach Megan really shines.”

Leo and Una liven up every event they appear at here at the University of North Alabama.

Though, those events may be limited this year, Wood says one thing that hasn’t changed is both his and Lestson’s joy when they get to hang out with their favorite lions.