A Tar Heel at the Super Bowl

Carolina alumnus Alex Floch is no stranger to being on the sidelines of big games. On Sunday night, he'll be on the field for Super Bowl LIII as the mascot manager for the LA Rams.

Alex Floch sits on the steps of South Building with Rameses.
Alex Floch sits on the steps of South Building with Rameses in 2017. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

There’s not a sports fan in the world that wouldn’t be envious of Alex Floch’s seats when it comes to the biggest games.

He regularly finds himself just mere inches from the action.

For Carolina’s 2017 national basketball championship, Floch stood on the end line as Carolina took home its seventh national championship. And now, on Sunday, he’ll be just as close to the most viewed sporting event in the country.

The mascot manager for the Los Angeles Rams, Floch will be with his new friend — and Rams mascot — Rampage on the field in Atlanta as the team competes for its first Super Bowl title since 2000.

“I don’t think many people get this opportunity,” said Floch, who graduated from Carolina in 2017. “I’m blessed to be in this position. I’m excited and ready for it.”

Just like for everybody else who will be sporting blue and gold on the field, Floch’s journey to the Super Bowl started years before the big game.

Becoming Rameses

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Floch was never much of a college sports fan. That changed after he arrived in Chapel Hill as a first-year student majoring in U.S. history and exercise and sports science.

“I know everybody in North Carolina has their by-birth allegiance. I wasn’t really one of those,” he said. “But I think that you step foot in Chapel Hill and you just kind of get sucked into it.”

After a stint on Carolina’s club baseball team didn’t work out, Floch was looking for another way to get involved on campus when he saw a social media posting about tryouts for the Rameses mascot.

He figured it was worth a shot.

For the next three years, Floch viewed some of Carolina’s biggest games through the eyes of the Tar Heel’s beloved Rameses mascot — a muscular anthropomorphic ram sporting Carolina blue. Whether it was interacting with fans at games or meeting children in the community, Floch and Rameses were the face of Carolina athletics.

It’s a role that Floch cherished — anonymously, of course, as the mascots aren’t allowed to reveal their identity while students.

“The whole idea of being a mascot is understanding that you’re taking on the character,” Floch said. “It’s somewhat of an art to be able to adapt and acclimate yourself to a different persona. You have to go into it with the understanding that you’re taking on something that is much greater than yourself. … Being a mascot is a very special thing.”

Rameses was valuable for Floch as a Carolina student, as well. Becoming Rameses helped shaped his college experience. He compares it to being a member of a fraternity.

“The mascot community calls itself the fur-terinty,” he said. “We’re tight-knit and we get along really well. When you’re able to be able to be a part of a team and be part of a group, it adds so much.”

The highlight of his career came on April 3, 2017, when the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga in the NCAA National Championship. At the end of the night, Floch stood on the court as Carolina blue confetti fell from the sky.

“Moments like that don’t come by very often,” he said. “You cherish those.”

Building a fan base

Fortunately for Floch, he’s prepping for another moment like that.

At the beginning of this NFL season, Floch took over as the mascot manager for the Rams and became closely acquainted with Rampage — another anthropomorphic ram, but this one donning a darker shade of blue.

He moved from Philadelphia to take the position.

“When you find something that you enjoy doing so much, you’re willing to do anything it takes to get to that point,” he said. “I can say that I’m very happy with the opportunity that I have.”

For months, Floch and Rampage went into the community to help build a fan base for a team that had returned to LA in 2016 after two decades in St. Louis.

“It was trying to not only reengage with that market of original fans who were fans before the team left, but also that younger generation of Los Angeles that still is looking for a team to root for,” said Floch, who also handles many of the logistics for events Rampage attends.

Things have gotten a bit busier for Floch and Rampage as the Rams head into Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night. With dozens of appearances leading up to the game, they’re interacting with thousands of football fans and serving as a valuable asset and ambassador to the Rams organization still looking to build roots in their new hometown.

After all the sendoffs, rallies, fan events and community projects that come along with Super Bowl week, the pair won’t be hard to spot come game time. They’ll be in the place Floch always is: right next to the action

“If somebody were to tell me five or six years ago that I was going to be on the floor for a national championship win and then get to be on the field for a Super Bowl…” Floch said, thinking of the upcoming experience. “I’m very fortunate. I’m very lucky.”