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I'm a Bear – Maddie Cabot & Dana Hoffman

Maddie Cabot & Dana Hoffman

Undergraduate student Maddie Cabot is proud to follow in her mom’s paw-steps as Klawz, UNC’s official mascot. 

April 27, 2023

A Legacy of Happenstance  

Dana Hoffman ’94 was excited and eager to begin her UNC journey in 1989. She had met a cheerleader when she first toured the campus who told her the school needed a mascot. Since Hoffman was the mascot at her high school, she jumped at the chance and became Bentley Bear, the name of UNC’s mascot at the time, for one year. Following in her paw-steps, her daughter, first-year Maddie Cabot, also pounced on the opportunity and is now Klawz, the current mascot at UNC. Here’s their story about how they both put on the Bear head to represent UNC. Dana Hoffman will be referred to as DH and Maddie Cabbot will be referred to as MC. 

DH: Maddie called me and said, ‘Guess what? I get to be the Bear,’ and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, no way!’ And then I said, ‘OK, you have to be really expressive and engage people.’ I found myself giving her advice, you know how parents do, but instead of about life lessons, it was about how to entertain people dressed as a furry animal.

MC: I wasn’t even planning on being the Bear, for me it was all about cheer at first. I made my decision to go to UNC on May 1, 2022, because that’s when I got my cheer tryouts results back and I got the specific position I was going for, which was flyer. Then our coach told us about the open Klawz position and how there were scholarship opportunities involved. So, I first started to do it for fun, and I was really good at it because I do a lot of Tik Tok dances, and it gets a lot of crowd involvement. 

DH: Klawz is really fun and fun-faced. Mine, Bently Bear, looked like it had real bear teeth in his head. Klawz also looks more like a super-hero with a muscle suit, and he has fun tennis shoes, where my suit fell flat and had no definition. 

MC: It takes me 10, 15 minutes to get suited up, and I have to have at least one person help me. 

DH: Between Maddie and me, though, I think there are a lot of similarities. We like to have a lot of fun in life and make people happy and smile and that is something that motivates us. 

MC: I can’t talk (as Klawz), so one thing I’ve learned about Klawz is doing big expressions and hand gestures. My favorite part about being Klawz is messing with the athletes and goofing around with the fans. I’ll look for certain people in the crowd that look more open and welcoming or are closer to the cameras. There’s a lot of strategy to it. Some days I’ll dance more, some days I’ll interact with people more.  

DH: I love to watch Maddie because she was a dancer when she was younger, so as soon as music hits you can watch the little bear tail start going, then the whole body gets going. And as a mom, it’s so fun. She’s still my little girl. 

DH: I was mainly Bently Bear at football games, and I remember when I put on the head and went out there, it was magical. It’s the best thing when a kid high fives you or a little girl gives you a hug, you go into another world. That’s why I tell Maddie, “I know you’re exhausted but to that one kid who doesn’t know you perform at multiple games and cheer as well, it makes their day to see you.” 

MC: Because she used to be the Bear, after football games she would critique me on my games. She would say, ‘During this quarter you didn’t have a lot of energy, did you not sleep last night?’ 

DH: I am always proud of her. When it first happened, I was so excited and I contacted a bunch of my old college friends and said, “Guess what?” So, yeah, it’s been a blast watching her provide joy to others. 

MC: This definitely wasn’t planned, but it would be cool if we kept going on and we had a legacy of Klawz’s in our family because we both love it so much. 

—Dana Hoffman ’94 and undergraduate Maddie Cabot, as told to Sydney Kern 

Dana Hoffman as Bentley Bear