BY JEFF FALK
I have been blessed many times, in many ways. And one of my more unique and obscure – and heretfore unrevealed – talents is my ability to communicate with Bears.
That’s right. Strange, but true. I can understand Bears, and they can understand me.
I’m sort of a Dr. Domore with the species ursus arctos. To most people, Bear Speak is little more than a series of grunts, growns and growls.
Now this ability is so rare that it is bearly ever relevant. Unless, of course, there is some need to interview a skating, and often times misunderstood, bear like Coco, the Hershey Bears’ biggest advocate and mascot.
It was because of this special bi-lingual, bi-species skill that Coco recently granted www.lebanonsportsbuzz.com, not only an exclusive interview, but his first ever.
“My role on the team is very simple,” said Coco. “I am the number-one Bears’ fan and ambassador. I enjoy interacting with the Bears’ fans and pumping them up during the games.”
Bears aren’t necessarily native to central Pennsylvania, especially the brown – or chocolate – species. Coco has been the Bears’ mascot since Oct. 14, 1978.
And while that is more than 33 years to me you and me, bear years are far different than human years.
“Well, I was born in the best town ever…Chocolate Town, USA,” said Coco, “and am a brown bear, so naturally I was given the name Coco.”
While there is some question as to how Coco originally came to follow sports, there really is none as to which has become his favorite.
“Do I really need to answer that?,” said a somewhat agitated Coco. “Go Bears, WOO!”
Currently, Coco’s team, Hershey, is in third place in the East Division of the American Hockey League, with 72 points and a record of 31-20-4-6. There is simply no validity to the rumor that the Bears would be higher in the standings if Coco rooted harder.
“It has been a crazy season so far,” said Coco. “Very fun and exciting. The fans have been awesome. We are fighting for a key playoff spot and are hoping for an 11th Calder Cup.”
While certainly an avid fisherman -oops, just fisher – Coco stopped short of saying that he learned his unique skating skills from ice fishing on frozen bodies of water in the winter.
“Skating always came natural to me,” said Coco, “and I play hockey almost everyday. If I was a hockey player, I would definitely play goalie.”
While some have suggested that he has become too old and slow, and that the game has passed him by, Coco said he has no plans for retiring.
“The trainer Beaker (Dan Stuck) has me on a strict healthy diet so I can get fit for next season,” said Coco. “When he lets me cheat, I go for anything Hershey’s Chocolate.”
Oh, that Coco! That irrepressible Coco!
Editor’s note: No bears or humans were hurt during the writing of this piece.