Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Waxahachie's 34-foot-tall mascot back in action, better than ever
Mended from ‘injuries,’ the Indian is back on watch at Waxahachie
WAXAHACHIE — He’s roughly 34 feet tall and recovering from a slew of debilitating injuries: two torn ACLs and a shoulder separation. With no family to speak of — except a distant relative in Illinois, or maybe Nebraska — he’s often alone, at the mercy of students who both love and taunt him.
None of this bothers him, though, this man with a detachable head and metal poles for bones. His fiberglass skin is pretty tough.
It’s a case of personification in the extreme at Waxahachie High School, where a giant muffler man mascot has taken on an identity of his own. Don’t dare refer to the Indian as an “it.” Always, always say “he.” He’s part of the culture at Waxahachie, but the last six months have been tough for the giant mascot.
The Indian assumed his place at Waxahachie’s football stadium in 1977, but his origins are fuzzy to the current coaching staff. They said they thought there was a similar muffler man on I-35 in Illinois, but that highway doesn’t even run through the state, and the statue with the closest resemblance to the Indian resides in North Platte, Neb.
Waxahachie takes its Indian for granted, and he’s become normal to the school. In an era where mascots like the Indian have often come under fire, no one raises an eyebrow at the muffler man. In fact, no one at the school even knows exactly how tall he is.
“I guess we could measure him with a pole vaulting stick,” assistant coach Terry Minton said, shrugging.
The school acquired the mascot from a now-defunct Chief Auto Parts store, and he’s what muffler man enthusiasts call an “Indian hybrid.” Although he sports a feathered headdress and his arm is raised in a stance typical of the Indian prototype, he has the face and square jaw of a traditional muffler man.
Since he arrived at the school, the Indian has seen his share of abuse. Offensive coordinator Joe Volentine said that lewd statements and objects have been drawn and placed on the statue. He’s even been shot with a .22 and survived.
But nothing compares to what happened to him last April, when a storm tore through the stadium. That’s when he sustained damage to his legs, waist and shoulder — injuries, according to coach David Ream — and was sent out for repairs.
Fortunately, the Indian had insurance, and the school sent him to Xtreme Auto Repair in Grand Prairie, where Jesus Diaz assumed the role of doctor, stylist and makeup artist to the Indian, who he estimated weighs just shy of a ton. Diaz has repaired everything from toilet seats to mailboxes to cars, but tackling the muffler man was a bigger job than he’d imagined.
“He didn’t fit in the building, so we had to lay him down sideways and suspend him in the air because he was so tall,” Diaz said.
Once the Indian was suspended, Diaz repaired his injuries, grinding down the broken spots and bullet holes and patching new fiberglass over them. He then repainted nearly all of the Indian’s body, adding a belt and upgrading his shoes to football cleats.
Diaz also added a new logo to the Indian’s shirt, and his friend Denise Thurton did some airbrush work on his face, feathers and the veins on his arm.
“We didn’t want to change up too much on him because he is their mascot, after all,” Diaz said.
After about four weeks of work, which Diaz said would have cost about $5,500 if the Indian hadn’t been insured, the mascot was ready to return to Waxahachie’s stadium, which had also undergone extensive renovations over the summer. As school was set to begin, students began to wonder where their Indian had gone, but he arrived back at the beginning of football season to very little fanfare.
Ream wasn’t there to see him re-mounted, to see his head re-attached to his looming body. Sure, Ream goes out to admire the new shoes, the brighter paint. He’s still just the Indian, though, nothing too exciting.
But when Minton pulls out an old, yellowed Polaroid of the mascot, taken just after his arrival decades ago, Ream pauses.
“He sure looks good compared to back then, doesn’t he?”