Mike Samuels is Tree!

March 3, 2011, 2:03 a.m.
Mike Samuels is Tree!
(ERIC KOFMAN/The Stanford Daily)

Michael Samuels ’11 was anointed as the new Tree just after 3 a.m. on Thursday.

As of yesterday, his main competitors were Akiko Kozato ’13, Cliff “Tanus” Owl ‘13 and Trevor! “Grub” Kalkus ’14. These saplings were decisively cut down last night.

“All my friends have told me for a while that I have way too much awesome,” Samuels said. “I have to let it out, I have to share it with the rest of the school and there’s no better way to do that than to be the Tree.”

Ben “Bollox” Cortes ‘11, who is the current Tree, echoed these sentiments, saying the school’s beloved mascot must have a strong presence.

“The mascot needs to be able to own whatever space he is in at that moment,” he said.

Through the course of Tree Week, Cortes sought a successor who possessed confidence, could “make a stand” for his territory and had “a willingness to not take any prisoners.”

He added that the new Tree should have “the ability to look kind of like an idiot in front of a lot of people, many of whom will very happily tell you that you look like an idiot.”

Samuels is ready to do just that.

“It’s hard to not look ridiculous in a Tree costume, in front of thousands and thousands of people,” he said.

Samuels plans to make his Tree costume even “more outrageous” and “a little bit more fun and personal at each game.” He hopes bring many other qualities to his new role as well, including fearless audacity.

At this year’s Orange Bowl, Cortes took on the Virginia Tech turkey, snapping its axe in half. Samuels hopes to emulate this type of temerity and has his sights set on the Cal bear.

“I would say the greatest [rival] has clearly got to be Oski,” Samuels said. “We have a long history with him. We live in the same habitat but we can’t really coexist.”

Tentative plans are in the works to ensnare Oski into a trap using honey as bait and superior wiles as leverage. The new Tree may recruit “other wildlife and animals to attack” the unknowing Cal mascot, too.

But when he’s not defending Stanford’s honor, Samuels hopes to bring unfettered enthusiasm and originality to his new position.

“I definitely bring a lot of energy and excitement,” he said. “I bring a different perspective than a lot of other potential candidates just because I’m not from band.”

Of yesterday’s four remaining candidates, Samuels is the only one who is not in the marching band.

The up-and-coming Tree has big shoes to fill, however, as he prepares to take on Cortes’ legacy.

“It’s been an absolute blast serving the Stanford community for this year,” Cortes mused. “But my bones are weary so it’s time to put fresh meat into the grinder and see if we get a good sausage.”

Time will tell.

For Samuels and Stanford, life is looking all right now.

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