Feathers to Fins
Walking the halls of the journalism
school is normal for any advertising major.
Standing in the middle of Williams-
Brice Stadium in a soft, red outfit with
big feet is not so normal. Jamie Ballentine
lived the best of both worlds when
he first put on those famous Cocky
feathers in 2002.
Ballentine wanted to play football in
high school, but his dad was scared of
injury, so convincing Ballentine to be the
mascot to go along with his spirited personality
was a good compromise. Starting
out as the Blazer at Ridge View High
School in Columbia, Ballentine knew he
wanted Cocky in his future.
Being a full-time student and living
a whole second life was what Ballentine
committed to and loved.
"I have to admit I fell asleep in
class a lot," Ballentine remembers.
"There was non-stop schoolwork,
events and appearances.
The professors in the
journalism school were
very understanding of
my odd scheduling, and
because of that, our relationships
As the most famous bird in
the southeast and graduating with an
advertising degree, his passion continues
beyond college. He appeared as "Blowie"
the Columbia Blowfish, "Trey" of the
Albuquerque Thunderbirds and the
Charleston River Dogs' "Charlie." Then
he heard a call to ministry.
"In that time, I felt God lay a heavy
burden on my heart to begin a mascot
ministry that would involve youth,
performing shows with a mascot for
children." In 2011, Ballentine met a man
in The Family Christian Bookstore in
Charleston. Ballentine revealed his feathery
identity to him, and the man told him
his church had just completed revamping
its children's department and wanted to
get a mascot. Harbor Light Church has
a lighthouse as its logo. Sticking with the
nautical theme, Ballentine first thought
of a walrus character, but after a few bad
walrus drawings and a prayer, an image
of a seahorse popped into his head.
Ballentine was about to become Harby
the seahorse at Harbor Light Church on
Now serving as a youth pastor, Ballentine
and his wife, Brittany, are planning
to start their own character ministry. Ballentine
says his ministry is like "developing
a character for live performances in
churches and youth camps to share the
Gospel with young children in a way
that is fun and memorable." Ballentine
includes his youth group in the shows
as performers or doing work behind the
scenes. "It's wonderful to know where I
come from, why I've struggled so often,
how to overcome those struggles and
what my purpose is, which is to glorify
God using the gifts, education and experiences
he has blessed me with," Ballentine
said. He gives back to his community
by making people smile and bringing
joy to total strangers, as Cocky or Harby,
or characters yet to come.
Reprinted from InterCom, the college alumni magazine
Story & Design By: Jacquelyn Farrell