Whether students sitting out by the Reflection Pond or cheering at a UCF basketball game, there might be a chance of catching a glance of a character that is not usually seen walking around a college campus—UCF’s very own local celebrity, the UCF Stormtrooper.
The force is full of UCF spirit when it comes to Blair Troop, a 19-year-old sophomore and mechanical engineering major, who is the man behind the mask of the ever-popular character that is slowly becoming a commonplace at UCF.
“Since my name is Blair Troop, for a while I always had some sort of nickname behind Troop,” Troop said. “I’ve been a fan of Star Wars and the film, so I’ve gotten ‘Stormtrooper.’”
In the Star Wars movies, the imperial stormtroopers are known for working with Darth Vader and for their less than perfect marksmanship against the rebel forces, but they remain very popular among Star Wars fans and non-fans alike.
Like many college freshman trying to find a way to assimilate yet still standout at a school as large as UCF, Troop and his friends tried to think of ways to stand out on a campus of over 60,000 students. Troop had the idea of dressing up as a Stormtrooper since the summer before he was a freshman at UCF, but could not find the armor. He eventually found someone with the costume, and the rest is history.
“I have always been a person where Halloween is my favorite time of year because I’ve always liked dressing up and doing that stuff, and my senior year of high school I did improv class,” Troop said. “I guess that could have foreshadowed me doing something like this.”
Troop said he dresses up as the legendary Star Wars character not because he wanted fame or popularity at UCF, but he genuinely loves the way people react to him on campus.
“After people meet me and talk to me for a while, and they find out that I am the Stormtrooper, they’ll be surprised because they don’t think that I would be that person. Sometimes when I meet new people, I’m kind of shy, but when I’m trooping it doesn’t matter who you are. I am a very [much] more outgoing person.”
So why does Troop dress up as the legendary Star Wars character? He said it’s not because he wanted fame or popularity at UCF, but he genuiunely loves the way people react to him on campus. Walking around campus, he is constantly bombarded with photo-op moments, high-fives, fist bumps and grins from surprised students. The UCF Stormtrooper says that if he could pick three things he would stand for, they would be school spirit, confidence and, most of all, fun.
“I think when people go from shocked to ‘that’s just awesome’ and giving me high fives, I really like that aspect. Just that transition from one emotion to the other is probably my favorite,” Troop said.
“It’s more about putting smiles on people’s faces. Making people really look around because I’ve walked around and people have walked by and not even noticed me.”
Troop hopes that the UCF Stormtrooper helps bring people out to more events, like football and basketball games, and just show an overall love, pride and morale for UCF as a whole. He also hopes to become more involved in other aspects of student life.
“I’d love to have people say ‘I love going to UCF because we’re not the same school as somewhere else.’ We have Knightro, and we have all these different black and gold references. I’d rather have people enjoy UCF and have really deep school spirit more than anything,” Troop said.
On the Facebook and Twitter accounts he has created for the UCF Stormtrooper, he writes as if he is an actual trooper who is protecting the school from “droids.” One post even states:
“Hunting for droids tonight at the UCF vs rice basketball game. My allies at the UCF Gauntlet will be assisting me in my search. Go Knights!” (January 2013)
People also tag their pictures with him in it on his Facebook page, which shows day by day that his followers are increasing, with over 400 likes on his Facebook page. But there is a downside—living in Florida and trying to suit up makes it a bit hot under the helmet.
“It’s really hot when I wear it because I wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants and long socks,” Troop said. “The helmet is probably the worst, and for the longest time it was just basically a bucket. It wasn’t until this semester did I put any padding in it. So, I would walk around campus with a ten to fifteen-pound bucket on my head. That was a pain, to say the least. By the end of the day, the top of my head would hurt.”
People get a kick out of seeing his character on campus and cheer him on. Troop said the experience has been more than he has expected it to become, always remembering that his mission is to build school spirit at UCF and help unify the Knight Nation.
In Star Wars lore, the troopers are known for their fierce loyalty to the empire and to protect Darth Vader at all costs.
“I try to take some of the stuff from the Stormtrooper into my own life, like walking around in life with a purpose and just try to be a fun person.”