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Michigan State University

The Magic Behind Sparty: Avery Tilley

Avery is graduating with degrees from three colleges and a Sparty-sized secret.

The Magic Behind Sparty: Avery Tilley

Avery is graduating with degrees from three colleges and a Sparty-sized secret.

For decades it has been an honored and sacred tradition for members of the Sparty Mascot Program to proudly walk across the stage at commencement donning the shiny green boots. As the secret is revealed, the crowd goes wild and family and friends finally understand the “why” behind the late nights and last-minute schedule changes.

The crowd cheers, but few truly understand the meaning behind the boots: dedication, volunteerism, sacrifice and a whole lot of energy. Those who have had the honor have donated hundreds of hours to the university and community. They know firsthand what it means to be a Spartan and have committed their college experience to spread goodwill, helping those in need, supporting the university, keeping up on pushups and offering countless high fives.

Avery, a College of Natural Science, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Honors College grad, had an experience at MSU unlike most and will be crossing the commencement stage with a well-kept secret. 

Do you have a favorite memory or event in your time as Sparty?

Yes, some of my favorite memories include: beating Wisconsin for Homecoming this year! It was such a great feeling to celebrate a tough win, especially when singing the fight song with the team and student section. I also had a blast learning and performing a halftime dance routine with the MSU dance team! It was so exhilarating to be able to perform a dance on the big stage and get the Breslin Center hyped.  I also had a super amazing experience at the Big 10k in Chicago this year! It was so much fun to hang out with other Big 10 mascots and cheer on Spartans as they raced.  

What will you miss most about portraying the world’s greatest mascot? 

I am definitely going to miss the aspect of never knowing what is coming next. Sparty never knows who he will see next or what unexpected thing might happen. That is part of what makes it so exciting and rewarding.  

What does Sparty mean to you? 

To me, Sparty is the man who embodies MSU. He is a timeless unifier that can bring together Spartan Nation. But, he is also a guy everyone loves who you can walk right up to and have a chat with. 

Who did you have to lie to the most to keep your secret? What do you think they’ll say when they find out? 

I have for sure kept my secret from lots of friends, family, classmates, and group partners over the years. I think I will shock quite a few people, but it will probably make total sense to them after the fact!  

What would you like to share with Spartans worldwide?

Thank you all for waving, smiling, high-fiving, and cheering me on. The love Spartans have for Sparty and for MSU is what made it all so special. Thank you Spartan Nation!

Signing off, Avery.  

Author: Aimee Klevorn