Student:

Ben Banks, a sophomore at Owen J. Roberts High School.

Achievement:

Banks, 16, of Pottstown, is also known as the Owen J. Roberts Wildcat, the school mascot. In addition to cheering and dancing along the sidelines for Owen J. football and basketball games this fall, Banks was invited to the Wachovia Center on Dec. 7 for "High School Musical: The Ice Tour" during the 76ers game against the Knicks.

The team mascot in the wildly popular Disney Channel

High School Musical

movies is a wildcat, prompting the invitation to both the Villanova and Owen J. mascots to help out 76ers mascot Hip-Hop during the game. The choice of a Sixers-Knicks game for the themed night was prompted by the lyrics of the song "Work This Out" in

High School Musical 2

, which includes the line "Get tickets to the Knicks and Sixers."

Perhaps aided by the help of two more mascots, the Sixers ended a three-game losing streak, beating the Knicks 101-90. The ice tour will be at the Wachovia Center from Dec. 28 through Jan. 6.

Question:

How long have you been the Wildcat?

Answer: This is my first year.

Q:

What did you do at the Sixers game?

A:

An hour before the game I just kind of walked around [in costume] and shook people's hands, handed out little tattoos, and little pompoms that said

High School Musical

on them. During the third and fourth quarters, we went out and threw T-shirts out into the crowd from the court.

Q:

Did the Sixers give you and the 'Nova Wildcat anything for your time?

A: They gave us box seats when we weren't in the costumes, and it was all catered and everything. So the first, second and part of the third quarter we watched from the suite.

Q:

Have you seen either

High School Musical

?

A: I've seen parts of them; I haven't seen all of them.

Q:

Do you have any idea why they're so popular?

A: Mostly girls like it; it's not really a guy's movie. The singing and stuff, it's supposed to be about the high school experience.

Q:

Is it?

A: Not really. It's kind of dramatic, exaggerated a bit. No one's life is like that.

Q:

What made you want to be the Wildcat?

A: I thought it'd be fun. I just wanted to dress up in the costume and mess around.

Q:

Who was the cooler mascot, Hip-Hop or the 'Nova cat?

A: Hip-Hop was pretty cool. He came up to us, said hi and stuff. We didn't actually see him, he was in costume. He shook our hands, but then he had to go somewhere and do stuff. The 'Nova Wildcat was nice, also. I got to talk to him while we were suiting up.

I asked him what it was like to be in college and mascot for a Division I university, if he got a scholarship for it. He didn't. He said it was fun, though, to go to all of the games, pump people up, and motivate the crowd.

Q:

What else do you do with your free time?

A: I run cross-country, and I play lacrosse. My favorite team is the Eagles, but not really this year. I'm also a caddy at Stonewall golf course.

Q:

Any plans to continue on as a mascot in college?

A: Well, I want to go to Annapolis, and they don't really have a mascot, so no.

- Will Hobson