Alum Jeff Orr traveled 15,100 miles in 2009 to see the Red Raider basketball team play.
So, you think you’re a big Texas Tech sports fan? Consider Jeff Orr. The 1983 Texas Tech graduate drives roundtrip from Waco to Lubbock for just about every Red Raider basketball game. He also makes most away games and he’s a serious football fan as well.
That translates into 32,000 miles in 2008 – 22,600 driving and 9,800 flying. In 2009, the totals are 15,100 miles – 13,900 in a car and 1,200 in the air. Orr has traveled to 31 states and Washington, D.C., for basketball and 20 states for football games.
“I drive to most games,” he said. “I drove to Lubbock 19 times in 2008 and 15 times in 2009. Most of the time, we drive in for the game and go home the same day. I fly to the far away games, though.”
A Crazy Hobby?
Is Orr crazy? No, he’s a perfectly normal Red Raider who happens to really, really love his basketball team. His response to the “crazy” question: “I agree with them, I guess. This is my hobby. I don’t hunt, fish, golf or any other normal guy activities. I just sort of follow the team around.”
It’s a hobby the basketball team and coaches appreciate.
“Jeff is unbelievable,” said Head Coach Pat Knight. “He means a lot to us and we try to take care of him. He’s always there for us, win or lose. It’s great to know that when we arrive at an away game, he’ll be there to meet us. We can always count on Jeff.”
A Tradition is Born
At this season’s home game against Texas, he sat in his regular seat under the north basket dressed in a referee’s striped shirt.
“I always wear the referee’s shirt to the UT game, I’ve done it since I was a Court Jester,” Orr said. “I don’t know where I got the idea, but I’d wear the striped shirt under my jacket and when the refs mad a bad call, I’d rip my jacket off and start helping the refs.”
Orr says his love for the game began during the years he played trombone in the Court Jesters, the all-volunteer band that plays for every home basketball game.
“I played for about three years and the band went to every Southwest Conference Tournament. I guess that was the start. I just kept going to games after I graduated,” he said.
Orr turned his petroleum engineering degree into a job at a Dallas oil company, which lasted until 1986 when oil prices crashed. He knocked around for a while and then landed the job he has today, air traffic controller in Waco.
As a devoted fan, Orr has visited 31 states and Washington, D.C. for basketball and 20 states for football.
Basketball vs. Football
Although it’s his first love, he doesn’t limit his devotion to basketball; he’s a major football fan who’s been to every Texas Tech bowl game since 1986. As a matter of fact, in 2007-2008, a couple of football games got in the way of basketball. Jeff and his wife Becky started the season in Anchorage at the Great Alaska Shoot Out.
“But I actually missed two basketball games that season because they conflicted with football,” he said. “The first game of the season was the same day we played UT in Austin and I thought the football team might win, so I went there. Then I went to the Gator Bowl New Year’s Day and missed that game.”
Becky managed to make both of those basketball games.
Jeff and Becky didn’t meet at a sporting event, however, she is a sports fan and knew exactly what she was getting into when she started dating Orr.
“Our first date was to the Texas Tech – Nebraska game when they beat us 56 to 3,” he said laughing. “I told her I didn’t care what the score was, I wasn’t leaving until it was over.”
He may be the Red Raiders’ number one fan, but he doesn’t have favorite players or games. “There have just been too many great times,” he said.
But when pressed, he does point to the excitement of Coach Bob Knight coming to Texas Tech and to the ’96 season, the last one for the Southwest Conference, when Texas Tech went 30 and two for the season.
“I was in North Carolina when Darvin Ham broke the backboard,” he said. “That was something. I have some small pieces of the glass mounted in a display case with the cover of Sports Illustrated picturing Darvin breaking the board.”
It’s a lot of driving and flying, but Orr doesn’t seem to mind. And he has no intention of stopping.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll always do this,” he said.