An Insider’s Guide to UCF’s Knight Rider
By Paige Wilson ’17
There’s more than one knight on UCF’s campus. While students and alumni are used to seeing athletics mascot Knightro everywhere from sporting events to pool parties, there’s another masked knight who only appears during football games.
Established in 2001, this knight rides onto the field atop Pegasus, the winged horse. The partnership between the knight and his trusted steed came about after members of the UCF Alma Mater Society, including Roger Pynn ’73 and Rick Walsh ’77 ’83MS, wanted to create a tradition for fans. They thought Pegasus needed to be better represented at games, and naturally a knight would be the one to ride him.
“It has achieved our goal of creating a tradition,” says Pynn. “People love seeing that horse and knight come out during the game.”
And while this particular knight was retired in 2016, the legacy lives on. UCF is working on redesigning the costume to better represent Scott Frost’s era as head coach.
Here are some fun facts about the original Pegasus’ knight:
1. Stitched Into History
Walt Disney World designed the original costume for the knight. Their sketches depicted two options, each with different visors for the helmet and placement of the Pegasus insignia. “It had to be designed in such a way that the person wearing the costume could both walk around and look natural while riding the horse,” Walsh says.
2. The Women Behind the Mask
The original knights were members of the Equestrian Club at UCF, and all but one have been female students — a little-known secret, says Carla Cordoba ’94 ’00MBA, who has advised the Pegasus Mascot Team since 2001. “As with Knightro, nobody knows who’s in the costume,” she says. “But the riders were typically girls because they were small enough to fit.”
3. Knight to the Rescue
“The objective in creating the costume was that we wanted our knight to have the same impact as a superhero,” Pynn says. And, according to Walsh, they wanted to be able to make subtle improvements to the costume over the years, similar to the evolution of Batman’s costume, so it could better reflect the times.
4. A Historic Ride
On January 1, 2014, Amanda Gonzalez ’14 suited up for the last time as the knight during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. “It’s a different experience seeing the world through just those little slits of your knight helmet,” says Gonzalez. “You don’t get to see everything, but it gives you the feeling that it’s game day.”
5. The Perfect Pair
Cordoba emphasizes the importance of the unbreakable bond between the knight and Pegasus. The two were never intended to be seen separately; nor was the rider ever to be seen without a mask. Protecting the anonymity of the knights’ identity was a way to foster tradition and represent UCF in all its glory. “It’s all those little details that make game day really special,” she says.