Texas Tech University

Homecoming Memories: A Texas Tech Tradition

K'Leigh Sims

September 30, 2015

Texas Tech students, faculty and alumni recount their favorite homecoming traditions and memories.

It's that time of year again when the Texas Tech University campus becomes a sea of red and black, ballots are counted for king and queen nominees, students are finishing up parade floats and Texas Tech fans near and far travel to the great city of Lubbock, Texas to celebrate a favored tradition: Texas Tech homecoming.

In anticipation of homecoming week, Texas Tech students, faculty and alumni recounted their favorite traditions and memories during the fun-filled time and what they are looking forward to this year.

M. Duane Nellis

Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis,

Favorite memory: I always enjoy the homecoming parade, but also the special opportunity to welcome so many of our alumni back to campus.

Favorite tradition: The excitement of all the pageantry related to the numerous special events makes it a wonderful weekend.

This year: I want the Red Raiders to win the football game against Iowa State.

Zach Bohls,
Former Raider Red (2010-2013) and Saddle Tramp alumnus, class of 2013

Zach Bohls
Zach Bohls as Raider Red

Favorite memory: I love the bonfire each year hosted by the Saddle Tramps. They do one heck of a job. I was a Saddle Tramp for four years and I got to build the bonfire each year from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. It was the most exhausting and hard, working experience of my life but so rewarding to see it in action.

Favorite tradition: I don't have a favorite tradition per se; I love them all. There are so many to choose from, which is great. The victory bells and the campus itself to name a few are historic to me. Also hearing "Raider Power!" at Jones AT&T Stadium would get even an Aggie excited.

This year: I loved having alumni visit and getting to see everyone continue the many traditions they experienced when they were students. It gave me a good vision of what it might look like when I came back as an alum. I look forward to seeing my Red Raider family. It's been a long overdue visit. I miss Texas Tech. It will always be my home. Getting to see Raider Red alumni and Saddle Tramps is always a treat as well. We are doing a fundraiser homecoming weekend for a statue of Raider Red that should be very fun and I am looking forward to seeing the support we get.

Holton Westbrook and Bailey Iverson, the 2014 homecoming king and queen

Holton Westbrook,
Student body president and 2014 homecoming king, class of 2016

Favorite memory: My favorite homecoming memory would have to be the time I was selected as homecoming king. As part of a family that is passionate about football, Texas Tech University and Texas traditions, it is easy to see homecoming is a big part of the fall. Being able to represent my organization at such a high level was humbling in itself and being around such an elite group of homecoming candidates made it even more rewarding. I will never forget getting to be in the parade, seeing the bonfire and talking with alumni from years past about how it felt and what it meant to be a Red Raider. Being blessed with the opportunity to represent the Lubbock community, the student body and the Texas Tech tradition that means so much to our campus was a memory I will remember for the rest of my life.

Favorite tradition: Homecoming is a fun time of year because it merges so many aspects of the campus and Lubbock community to welcome in the fall season. Alumni, students and community members alike have an opportunity to join together to create and reminisce underneath the Double-T, which means so much to each of us, all of which happens around the atmosphere of college football. Does it get any better than that?

This year: Attending my final homecoming of my undergraduate years gives me mixed emotions of nostalgia and excitement. I'm looking forward to hanging out and making memories with those mentors and friends I have been blessed to meet the past four years while also soaking in the last few football games I have left of my college experience. While I'm resting on these thoughts, I also have the unique opportunity to pass down this year's homecoming crown to my successor. I can't wait to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with another Red Raider and be the hand that sees this unique experience live on. Being a small part of Texas Tech's history has been a humbling experience and getting to watch this continue for yet another year in Raiderland is something that cannot be touched anywhere else across the country.

Bonnie Ohlig with sister Elizabeth Palmer

Bonnie Ohlig,
Texas Tech alumna and former Pom Squad member (2004-2005, 2007-2009), class of 2009

Favorite memory: The Friday night bonfire. It's a way to come together the night before and experience something that only happens once a year.

Favorite tradition: Homecoming was always a fun time for me because my entire family attended Texas Tech. We attend the bonfire, parade and all the tailgating in the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center. They would come into town every year and it has been a tradition since my sister started attending Texas Tech in 2002.

This year: I am looking forward to cheering on the field with my sister once again. We were on the Texas Tech Pom Squad together for a few years and it's always my favorite time to get back on the field and cheer together once again. I also love to see my niece and nephew all dressed up in their Texas Tech gear because we all know you have to start them off early.

Bill Dean

Bill Dean,
Texas Tech alumnus, director of Student Publications, associate professor in the College of Media and Communication and executive vice president for the Texas Tech Alumni Association, class of 1961

Favorite memory: The most memorable homecoming was 1976. A huge snowstorm hit Lubbock. The parade was canceled. The football game was pushed back several hours while graders removed the snow from the surface. The first half went reasonably well and then it started to snow again in the second half. We beat Southern Methodist University but it was a mess.

Favorite tradition: As alumni director it is always a fun time to see and visit with the many alumni who return. It also is a sad time when we remember, at the Techsan Memorial, those alumni who passed away in the past year.

This year: I look forward to seeing old friends, and of course, the Texas Tech Alumni Association hosts a board meeting, the Top Techsan Luncheon, where we honor staff members who serve above and beyond, and the Matador Dinner where this year we will present a Distinguished Service award to Gerald Dolter, a professor in the School of Music, and the Cavazos award to Jerry Rawls. 

Sydney Webster

Sydney Webster,
Texas Tech Feature Twirler (2013 to present), class of 2017

Favorite memory: As the Texas Tech Feature Twirler, my favorite homecoming memory is the pep rally and bonfire from my freshman year. We participate in the homecoming parade every year and get to twirl at the bonfire, and that was such a fun experience my first year, because the crowd was so excited and involved. It was my first time twirling a fire baton, too, so it was overall an extremely exciting and thrilling night.

Favorite tradition: Homecoming is such a fun time of year for every student, but being a part of the parade is such an honor. We prepare for this months in advance, so it's so much fun to finally perform in front of such a lively crowd. The fans are so great and supportive, it's just a great time in general.

This year: This upcoming year, I am looking forward to the actual homecoming game. The spirit squads do such a great job getting the students hyped up before the game and through all of the homecoming events, so the actual game will be such a blast. Plus, beating Iowa State would make a perfect ending to homecoming.

Stacy Stockard as the Masked Rider

Stacy Stockard,
43rd Masked Rider (2004-2005) and marketing coordinator for Texas Tech's Transportation and Parking Services, class of 2005

Favorite memory: When I served as Masked Rider, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the program during homecoming weekend. All of our former riders came in for a reunion, swapped stories, served as grand marshals of the homecoming parade and were recognized on the field before the game. I learned so much history about our program and got to know former riders I had only heard stories about. It was an unforgettable experience and we beat Nebraska 70-10!

Favorite tradition: Homecoming is a great opportunity to come back to campus, see what's new and catch up with former classmates and professors. I love having friends come to visit for homecoming and giving them a campus tour to see what's changed since their time as students. Campus gets more beautiful every year.

This year: I'm a proud alumna of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, and I always look forward to the departmental reunions Friday night and CASNR homecoming breakfast Saturday morning. Nothing beats getting to catch up with old friends and see what students, faculty and staff members have accomplished since last year.

Rodney Blackshear

Rodney Blackshear,
Former Texas Tech wide receiver (1987-1991), class of 1991

Favorite memory: My favorite homecoming memory was seeing all of the former Texas Tech greats on campus attending the bonfire when I was a captain my senior year and was asked to address the crowd.

Favorite tradition: The bonfire, because it showed the true spirit of what it was all about to be a Red Raider.

This year: I most look forward to, first of all, a Texas Tech victory and the atmosphere of the tailgates. I also look forward to being around my former teammates and catching up on each other's lives.

Chris Snead with his daughter Kailey, a freshman at Texas Tech and Goin' Band member

Chris Snead,
Texas Tech alumnus, associate vice president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, Saddle Tramps sponsor, Spirit Coordinating committee member and Raider Red committee member, class of 1993

Favorite memory: My first memory of homecoming was my freshman year attending the bonfire in 1987. Back then it was way out on the west end of campus near where the West Village residence hall is today. We were playing Arkansas for some reason, and I still don't know why, since we had an awful Tulsa on the schedule the next week. Regardless, at the time, it was the biggest bonfire I had ever seen and at the top of it was an outhouse with a Razorback on it. That always struck me as "pretty cool!"

Favorite tradition: Now that I work at the Alumni Association, I enjoy getting to welcome home those alumni who have not been on the campus for a long time. I love to hear them talk about how much the campus has changed and then immediately say, "Let's take a tour," and put them in my truck and drive them around to all of the new facilities.

This year: My daughter is a freshman in the Goin' Band and this will be her first homecoming bonfire. I hope she will have memories that she will recall in 20 years the way I do today.

Rodney Allison

Rodney Allison,
Former Texas Tech quarterback (1974-1977) and executive director of the Double-T Varsity Club, class of 1980

Favorite memory: 1976 – We had a 1950s pep rally the night before homecoming. We all went and everyone dressed up in 1950s gear. It was a lot of fun and really neat. The 1976 bonfire was a great memory also. The homecoming game that season also really sticks out to me – a great memory as well.

Favorite tradition: It was always a great time of year to see the school spirit across campus and to see all of the alumni returning to Lubbock. Homecoming is always a special time in Raiderland.

This year: In my current position, we have a variety of all our athletics alums returning to campus for homecoming. With the significance of homecoming, it is always nice to have our former athletes want to return for that weekend.

Keith Bearden

Keith Bearden,
Texas Tech alumnus and Goin' Band member and former director, class of 1969

Favorite memory: My favorite and funniest memory of homecoming was when I was a student member in the Goin' Band. Dean Killion, our director, would march the band over to the front of the Student Union Building to vote for the band representative. Our candidate won homecoming queen two years in a row!

Favorite tradition: When I was a student at Texas Tech, homecoming was always a great time to visit with alumni who had returned, and the annual Goin' Band alumni banquet.

This year: I always look forward to the game, the parade and the Goin' Band. My two sons marched with the band and my granddaughter is a current member.