In Sparty’s Boots: Connor Williams

April 27, 2024 - Dmytro Shynkaruk

A College of Social Science grad has a secret to reveal.

As Connor Williams appears on the stage of the Breslin Center, the crowd goes wild. “He is wearing the boots! He is Sparty!”, echoes throughout the hall. 

For decades, members of the Sparty Mascot Program have been proudly wearing shiny green boots at commencement. It is a sacred tradition to honor the dedication, volunteerism and sacrifice of the students who served the university and community. 

Now Connor, a College of Social Science grad, can share his experience as the World's Greatest Mascot. 

How did you become interested in portraying Sparty? 

I’ve been a Michigan State fan my entire life. When I arrived on campus in my sophomore year, my mom, who is also a Spartan, sent me a link to a tryout. I mean, what could be cooler than being Sparty? 

What does Sparty mean to you?

Being Sparty not only means representing my university but also spreading joy and bringing light into people’s lives when they face dark times. 

What is your favorite memory or event in your time as Sparty? 

Sweet 16, last year at Madison Square Garden! That was my first time in New York and it was very surreal. I could not believe I was on the stage, representing MSU and cheering on our basketball team. I was super excited and a little nervous. And I was starstruck when I saw Carmelo Anthony in the backrooms. 

Who was the coolest person you met as Sparty?

Former players like Draymond Green, Max Christie, Bryn Forbes and other current and former athletes. Also, hanging out with MSU Presidents Woodruff and Guskiewicz was cool. 

What are the perks of being Sparty, except for meeting celebrities? 

You get the greatest seat in the house for all athletic events (laughing). You are always there in the action, seeing what's happening. It brings electricity, especially at basketball games, when you have the student section behind you. When we hit a big three or a big dunk happens, you turn around and get hyped with the student section. 

How did you manage to balance your studies with your role as Sparty? 

A part of the college experience is learning how to manage your time. I was able to compartmentalize a lot of aspects of my life. Whenever you do something as Sparty, it feels like a good study break where you have fun for a certain amount of time. When you get back to your homework, you are in good mental shape. You have to make time for the fun things in college and this was definitely one of them. 

Did you train hard for one-hand push-ups? 

I was keeping myself fit. I run every now and then and play soccer. But when you do Sparty a lot, you get conditioned to it, which also keeps you in shape. 

What will you miss most about portraying the World's Greatest Mascot? 

I will miss the scene, all the students on campus and everyone just being so excited to see Sparty. People get super happy when they see him, it brightens up their day. Sparty makes them laugh, shows them a good time on campus. I will definitely miss interacting with Spartans! 

How did you manage to keep your identity secret? 

That was one of the most challenging parts. When I suddenly could not hang out with my friends or show up at celebrations, they would get suspicious. But I was able to make up a wide plethora of excuses to get them off my back. However, it was not that simple (smiling). 

Who did you have to lie about being Sparty and how would they react when they found out?

I had to lie to my family and friends the most. When we had a football game, I could not join them for tailgates because of my responsibilities as Sparty. They were like: “It’s Saturday in East Lansing, why aren’t you tailgating with us”? I think they will be really excited. They will finally understand that I was not just blowing them off. I know a lot of diehard Spartan fans who love Sparty and love MSU, so I'm really looking forward to the reveal and seeing their reactions. 

How will your experience of being Sparty help you in your future life and career? 

It has made me a lot more outgoing than I was. You really need to be that sort of person to portray Sparty because he interacts with everybody. Also, doing the run out in the stadium where 75 thousand people are watching you requires confidence. This has really helped me in life. 

What is your message to the Spartans worldwide? 

Thank you for letting me represent MSU! We are an awesome university that has a lot of love and we are a big community - not many colleges have that. You go to any city in the world and hear - Go Green! Go White! I just want to say thank you to all Spartans for that. 

The original story was published to the MSU Alumni Office site here.