Texas Tech University traditions

Texas Tech University traditions

Texas Tech University traditions are an important part of the culture of Texas Tech University.


The Masked Rider

The Masked Rider, Texas Tech's primary mascot, dates back to a 1936 prank. George Tate borrowed a horse from the Texas Technological College Dairy Barn and led the football team onto the field. [cite web|url=http://www.depts.ttu.edu/communications/news/stories/07-06-masked-rider.php|title=2007-2008 Masked Rider Takes the Reins|accessdate=2008-09-09|publisher=Texas Tech University|last=Chandler|first=Cory|coauthors=Pressley, Gretchen] This was done a few more times during the 1936 season season but was not seen again for 17 years. At the Gator Bowl on January 1, 1953, Texas Tech student Joe Kirk Fulton, riding Blackie, rushed onto the field ahead of the football team. The crowd sat in stunned silence before bursting into applause. At that game, The Masked Rider became the official mascot of Texas Tech and the first mascot in major college sports featuring a live horse. [cite web|last=Bauer|first=Ted|title=College Basketball: Texas Tech Red Raiders|publisher=Deadspin|url=http://deadspin.com/sports/college-basketball/texas-tech-red-raiders-243339.php|accessdate=2008-09-05] [cite web|last=Chandler|first=Cory|title=Gator Re-Raided|date=2007-12-21|publisher=Texas Tech University|url=http://www.depts.ttu.edu/communications/news/stories/07-12-masked-rider-to-bowl.php|accessdate=2008-09-05]

The Masked Rider wears a black gaucho hat, a black mask, and a scarlet rider's cape. [cite web|last=Griffin|first=Tim|title=Face of the Program: Texas Tech Red Raiders|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/face/team?teamId=2641|accessdate=2008-09-03] From its inception to 1974, the rider was always a male student. Ann Lynch's selection as the first female rider caused controversy at the university.cite news|last=Griffin|first=Tim|title=After passing series of tests, Hartzog to serve as Tech's Masked Rider|date=2008-06-26|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3460419|accessdate=2008-09-03] Today, the student serving in the role is a member of either the Saddle Tramps men's spirit organization or the High Riders women's spirit organization. [cite news|last=Smits|first=Garry|title=Mascots unmasked: A lasting tradition for Texas Tech began at 1954 Gator Bowl|work=The Florida Times-Union|date=2007-12-26|url=http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/122507/col_228878061.shtml|accessdate=2006-04-30] [cite web|last=Ritz|first=Jennifer|title=History of Masked Rider: A history of one of Texas Tech's Oldest and Best-Loved Traditions|work=Texas Techsan Magazine|url=http://www.depts.ttu.edu/spiritsquads/MR_History.htm|accessdate=2008-08-12] Ashley Hartzog, a senior animal science and Spanish major from Farwell, Texas, will represent the university as the Masked Rider during 2008/09.

In 2000, a sculpture by artist Grant Speed was unveiled to commemorate the tradition. That statue is 25 percent larger than real life. It sits outside the university's Frazier Alumni Pavilion. [cite news|last=Wolfe|first=Angel|title=Rider stands larger than life: A new statue dedicated to the history of the Masked Rider finds its home|date=2000-09-11|url=http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/media/storage/paper870/news/2000/09/11/CampusNews/Rider.Stands.Larger.Than.Life-1270800.shtml|accessdate=2008-09-01]

Raider Red

Texas Tech's other mascot, Raider Red, is a more recent creation. Beginning with the 1971 football season, the Southwest Conference forbade the inclusion of live animal mascots to away games unless the host school consented. For situations where the host school did not want to allow the Masked Rider's horse, an alternate mascot was needed. Jim Gaspard, a member of the Saddle Tramps student spirit organization, created the original design for the Raider Red costume, basing it on a character created by cartoonist Dirk West, a Texas Tech alumnus and former Lubbock mayor. [cite news|last=Gulick|first=Joe|title=Dirk West: Before the mustache, guns|work=Lubbock Avalanche-Journal|date=2008-05-04|url=http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/050408/loc_275256359.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-14] Though the Masked Rider's identity is public knowledge, it has always been tradition that Raider Red's student alter ego is kept secret until the end of his or her tenure. [cite web|title=Raider Red|publisher=Texas Tech University|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/raiderred.php|accessdate=2008-08-30] The student serving as Raider Red is a member of the Saddle Tramps or High Riders.


Will Rogers & Soapsuds

One of the most well-known landmarks on campus is the statue of Will Rogers on his horse Soapsuds. The statue, created by Electra Waggoner Biggs, has resided at the center of the campus since it was dedicated on February 16, 1950 by Rogers' longtime friend Amon G. Carter. [cite web|url=http://www.waggonerranch.com/images/WaggHist.htm|title=Waggoners History|accessdate=2008-09-09|publisher=W. T. Waggoner Estate] [cite web|last=Hooks|first=Michael Q.|title=Will and Soapsuds|publisher=Southwest Collection|url=http://swco.ttu.edu/University_Archive/pdf/1982.pdf|format=PDF|accessdate=2008-08-18] Carter claimed that Texas Tech was the ideal setting for the statue and that it would be an appropriate addition to the traditions and scenery of West Texas. [cite web|title=Will Rogers statue dedicated|publisher=Lubbock Centennial|url=http://lubbockcentennial.com/Section/1934_1958/WillRogers.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-14] The statue, estimated to cost (in 1950) $25,000, stands 9 feet 11 inches (3 m) and weighs 3,200 pounds (1,450 kg). [cite web|url=http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/media/storage/paper870/news/2006/08/25/LaVida/How-To.Live.As.A.Raider.In.12.Big.Ways-2250711.shtml|title=How to Live as a Raider in 12 Big Ways|accessdate=2008-08-18|work=The Daily Toreador|last=Monahan|first=Stephen] The inscription on the plaque at the base of the statue reads: "Lovable Old Will Rogers on his favorite horse, 'Soapsuds', riding into the Western sunset."cite web|title=Will Rogers & Soapsuds|publisher=Texas Tech University|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/rogers.php|accessdate=2008-08-14]

According to one legend, the statue was originally to be positioned with Will Rogers facing due west, so that it would appear he was riding into the sunset. However, that position would cause Soapsuds' posterior to face due east, towards the main entrance of the school. The horse's rear would also be facing downtown Lubbock, potentially insulting the Lubbock business community. To solve this problem, the statue was turned 23 degrees to the northwest so Soapsuds' rear would face southeast in the general direction of College Station, Texas, home of rival Texas A&M University. Before every home football game, the Saddle Tramps wrap the statue with red crepe paper. In times of national tragedies, the statue has also been wrapped in black crepe paper.

Blarney Stone

On Saint Patrick's Day in 1939, Texas Tech President Clifford B. Jones and Engineering Society President Dosh McCreary unveiled the Blarney Stone monument which sits in front of the old Electrical Engineering Building. The stone on the monument was said to have been discovered on March 7, 1939 by a group of petroleum engineers on a field trip. It was reported at the time that the stone had been found to be "identical with a piece of the original Blarney Stone which disappeared from Blarney Castle...in 1659". [cite news|last=Monahan|first=Stephen|title=How to live as a Raider in 12 big ways|date=August 25, 2006|url=http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/media/storage/paper870/news/2006/08/25/LaVida/How-To.Live.As.A.Raider.In.12.Big.Ways-2250711.shtml|work=The Daily Toreador|accessdate=2008-09-04] [cite news|last=Martin|first=Cindy|date=March/April 1987|title=The Blarney Stone...at Texas Tech?|url=http://www.swco.ttu.edu/University_Archive/pdf/1987.pdf|work=Texas Techsan|publisher=Texas Tech Alumni Association|location=Lubbock, Texas|page=25|format=PDF|accessdate=2008-09-04] How this was determined is unknown. [cite paper|last=Ritz|first=Jennifer|title=This is Texas Tech|work=Texas Techsan Magazine|publisher=Texas Tech Alumni Association|url=http://www.depts.ttu.edu/centerforcampuslife/traditions/Traditions.pdf|pages=7|format=PDF|accessdate=2008-09-04]

Double T Bench

The seniors of the class of 1931 donated the Double T Bench, a bench in the shape of Texas Tech's Double T logo. [cite web|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/bench.php|title=Double T Bench|accessdate=2008-09-07|publisher=Texas Tech University] The bench is located in the courtyard behind the Administration Building. It is an announced tradition that no freshmen are allowed to sit on it.cite web|title=Texas Tech Traditions A-to-Z|publisher=Texas Tech Athletics|url=http://texastech.cstv.com/trads/text-m-fb-atoz.html|accessdate=2008-09-05] [cite web|url=http://www.plan.gs/Article.do?orgId=609&articleId=7256|title=James and Marguerite Niver: Memories Inspired Their Gift|accessdate=2008-09-07|publisher=Texas Tech University]


Alma Mater (The Matador Song)

The Matador Song was written by Harry Lemaire and R.C. Marshall. Lemaire was band director at Tech from 1925-34. He composed the music. Marshall, editor of the La Ventana, wrote the words in 1930. The words and title represent Texas Tech's original athletic teams' name of Matadors. It is sung at athletic events and occasions such as Commencement.

Fight, Matadors, for Tech! Songs of love we'll sing to thee, Bear our banners far and wide. Ever to be our pride, Fearless champions ever be.Stand on heights of victory. Strive for honor evermore. Long live the Matadors!

Fight Song

The Fight Song was written by Carroll McMath, and updates the Matadors, Tech's original name for the athletic teams, to the Red Raiders. The spirited song is sung at many of Tech's sporting events.

Fight, Raiders, Fight! Fight, Raiders, Fight! Fight for the school we love so dearly. You'll hit 'em high, you'll hit 'em low. You'll push the ball across the goal, Tech, Fight! Fight! We'll praise your name, boost you to fame. Fight for the Scarlet and Black. You will hit 'em, you will wreck 'em. Hit 'em, Wreck 'em, Texas Tech! And the Victory Bells will ring out.


Carol of Lights

The Carol of Lights is held annually to celebrate the holiday season at the university. The event begins with the Texas Tech University Combined Choirs singing classic holiday songs at the Science Quadrangle. This is followed by the lighting ceremony, where students and others witness the illuminating of the over 25,000 red, white, and orange lights decorating the 13 buildings surrounding Memorial Circle.

The tradition traces its beginnings to 1959 when Harold Hinn designed the plan and provided the funding to cover the Science Quadrangle and Administration Building with lights. However, students were away on Christmas break and did not see the display. So, the following year year, the Residence Hall Association created the Christmas Sing, which became to be known as the Carol of Lights. The Carol of Lights is now one of Texas Tech's favorite traditions. [cite web|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/carol.php|title=Carol of Lights|publisher=Texas Tech University|accessdate=2008-09-05]

Arbor Day

Each spring, Texas Tech students gather to plant flowers and new trees on campus in an effort to beautify the campus. The tradition began in 1937 when President Knapp dedicated the day. On the first Arbor Day, students and faculty planted 20,000 trees.


RaiderGate is the an officially sanctioned student tailgating event that takes place on campus and begins four hours before each home football game. A typical event draws nearly 10,000 students. Live music acts play on stage as students and guests barbecue, socialize, and participate in games hosted by various student organizations. Texas Tech's Student Government Association hosts the event. [cite web|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/raidergate.php|title=Raider Gate|publisher=Texas Tech University]


Texas Tech homecoming is held each fall. It began in 1930 at a game where the football lost, 20–6, to Hardin-Simmons. During the annual celebration, Tech-exes and fans join with students for a bonfire and pep rally, parade, open houses, awards programs, and float competitions. A highlight of the event is election of a queen, the first being Suzanne Matteson in 1954.


Texas Tech ring

While the class ring had occasionally used a universal design, by the late 20th century various styles were available. In 1999, the university reverted to a single ring design for the university's graduates. The new Official Texas Tech Alumni Association Class Ring symbolically captures the essence of Texas Tech with the prominent Double T logo surrounded by the school’s full name and date of foundation. By tradition, undergraduates wear the ring with the Double T logo facing themselves. Upon graduation, the ring is turned so the logo faces outward.

One shoulder of the ring displays an image of the Administration Building, with the bells which represent victory. The other shoulder contains the university seal: an American eagle perched above a book, representing the church; a star, representing the State of Texas; a key, representing home; and, a lamp, representing knowledge. These elements are separated by a cross featuring ten cotton bolls, one each for Lubbock and its nine surrounding cotton-producing counties. [cite web|title=TTAA Class Ring & Ceremony|publisher=Texas Tech University|url=http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/ring.php|accessdate=2008-08-14]

Guns Up

The hand sign of Texas Tech is the "Guns Up". It is made by extending the index finger outward while extending the thumb upward and tucking in the middle, little and fourth fingers to form a gun to signify that the Red Raiders will shoot down their opponents. It acts as both a greeting and a sign of victory used by fans and players at athletic events. The sign was created in 1971 by Texas Tech alumnus L. Glenn Dippel, who was living in Austin and wanted an answer to the Hook 'em Horns sign used by University of Texas fans. [http://www.ttu.edu/traditions/gunsup.php Texas Tech University :: Campus Information :: History & Traditions :: Guns Up] ] [citation |last=Burka|first=Paul|newspaper=Texas Monthly|title=Football Hand Signals|url=http://www.texasmonthly.com/ranch/readme/handsign.php|accessdate=2008-01-27] [cite web|last=Pressley|first=Gretchen|newspaper=Texas Tech Today|title=Get Your Guns Up!|url=http://www.depts.ttu.edu/communications/news/stories/08/01-guns-up.php|accessdate=2008-02-15]

Retired jerseys

Three Red Raider football players have had their jersey numbers retired. E.J. Holub's No. 55 was retired on Dec. 19, 1960, and Donny Anderson's No. 44 was retired Nov. 11, 1995. Dave Parks's No. 81 jersey was retired Nov. 17, 2001. Both Holub and Anderson are members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Spirit organizations

Saddle Tramps

Saddle Tramps is an all male organization at Texas Tech University that dedicates itself to the spirit and service of the school. Created in 1936 by Head Cheerleader Arch Lamb, Saddle Tramps are known for wrapping the statue of Will Rogers "Riding into the Sunset" in red crepe paper before every home football game. Members are also known for ringing the victory bells after every football game, home basketball, and baseball game.

Texas Tech's oldest mascot is The Masked Rider. However, in 1971, the Southwest Athletic Conference passed a rule that no live animals could travel to away games unless the host team gave their permission. Saddle Tramp Jim Gaspard created a new mascot, Raider Red, based on a character by Dirk West. During the tenure, the identity of the person playing Raider Red is unknown to everyone but the Saddle Tramps.

Saddle Tramps are usually selected in their first year at Texas Tech University. Membership in the organization is limited to 100 people. [ [http://www.saddletramps.org/about.php Saddle Tramps - About ] ]

High Riders

High Riders is a spirit organization at Texas Tech University. It is dedicated to promoting unity and support for all women's athletics at the school. The High Riders take part in parades and campus events throughout the year to endorse the Lady Raiders. They also hold the distinction of being the only people, along with the Saddle Tramps, allowed in the bell tower of the Administration Building to ring the Victory bells after each Lady Raider home victory. [ [http://www.orgs.ttu.edu/highriders/About_Us.htm High Riders - About] ]

The organization dates to 1975 and traces its roots to Nancy Neill. After attending a Saddle Tramps meeting, she discovered there had been several failed attempts to organize a women's organization to support Texas Tech's women athletes. She decided that, with better planning, she could create a lasting group to fill the gap.

On February 2, 1976, the High Riders were accepted as an official campus organization. They began work immediately and, the following fall, 75 undergraduates attended rush parties. Twenty-five were chosen to be members of the first pledge class. They pledged through January 1977 and were initiated on February 4. [ [http://www.saddletramps.org/about.php Saddle Tramps - About] ]

When the organization first began, the High Riders had no direct funds from the university. They had to support themselves by way of bake sales, selling dorm room carpet, and selling programs at Lady Raiders sporting events. In time, the High Riders expanded and played an even greater role by helping the Lady Raiders with airport transportation, game management, and giving recruits campus tours. [ [http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/100403/col_100403012.shtml Tech Hall of Honor inducts new class of six] ]


External links

* [http://www.ttu.edu Texas Tech University]
* [http://www.orgs.ttu.edu/highriders Texas Tech High Riders]
* [http://www.saddletramps.org Saddle Tramps]

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