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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. feathers image

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, studying, games, events and appearances. The professors in the journalism school were very understanding of my odd scheduling, and because of that, our relationships were strong."

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 James Island.

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

Jacquelyn Farrell

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