After 20 years as the Spurs’ Coyote mascot, Wicall developed ankylosing spondylitis. Lifting spirits and helping others drives him, which is why he started the local leadership board.
Wicall is as likeable out of costume as he is in one. The man is a TED Talk come to life – a passionate, compelling story-teller with an irresistible edge. He’s got no job but lots of energy. He lacks clear direction but has lots of ambition. As Wicall puts it, “I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up.”
He grew up with a zeal for drama, athletics and making people smile. If he wasn’t playing soccer or running track at New Braunfels High, he was teaching himself to juggle or ride a unicycle. He performed in theater. He learned to tumble and walk on his hands without taking gymnastics. He figured out how to balance a chair on his chin.
“I was the kid who stood in front of a mirror and tried to raise one eyebrow,” he said. “I would flip in the grass until I learned to land on my feet. I performed for anyone I could. I was the Coyote before I was the Coyote.”
He became a water ski performer at Sea World and the mascot for the Washington Capitals. He served as the Spurs’ backup Coyote before assuming the role full time in 2004. The character, you could say, came naturally to him. In 2005, Gameops.com named him Best Mascot of the Year. In 2014, the Coyote was named NBA Mascot of the Year.
Performing took its toll. Wicall suffered a litany of injuries – once, he fell off five-foot stilts and landed on his shoulder – before the arthritic condition kicked in. His legs grew stiff, and his hips began to freeze. Unable to work, he retired. His wife, Leigh-Ann, works as a government contractor, and the two run a small janitorial business. But that business is not his passion.
Lifting spirits and helping others drives him, which is why he started a local leadership board to support the Arthritis Foundation and raise awareness for a crippling disease. Wanting to inspire with words, Wicall began jotting down stories. He created a website and started a blog.
“Making other people happy, makes me happy,” he says.