A Raider Red Tradition in the Making

A new tradition unmasks Raider Red and honors the achievements of the students behind his performance.

Written by: Gretchen Pressley

Two retiring student mascots were honored for their efforts during a new Texas Tech University ceremony Sunday (April 15).

Kari Rodgers from the High Riders and Tyler Bridge from the Saddle Tramps have spent two years serving in secret as Texas Tech’s mustachioed Raider Red; they revealed themselves to the public and passed their guns on to a new generation of Raider Reds during the first annual Passing of the Guns.

"It has been a privilege to serve as one of the first females to be Raider Red," said Rodgers, a finance major from Hamlin. "History is in the making with this program and to be a part of one of the greatest traditions of Texas Tech will forever be a part of my life and memories."

Four students currently take turns inside the Raider Red costume. Each performer serves a two-year term, and two new students are taken on every year. Rodgers and Bridge, who are finishing their terms, passed their guns to the students who were selected to fill their shoes – or boots, rather.

In the past, the students behind the mascot would step down without officially announcing their true identities. This new ceremony will serve to commend the Raider Reds on their performance and highlight their importance to school spirit at Texas Tech.

"I have literally watched the Raider Red program grow from one guy getting cell phones calls for appearances at 8 a.m. every morning to a strong support structure of people that I have come to love and care about very dearly," said Bridge, a vocal performance major from Denton.

In 2005, a new partnership between the Saddle Tramps, High Riders and Texas Tech’s Center for Campus Life expanded the role of Raider Red. While the Saddle Tramps, who created Raider Red along with illustrator Dirk West, remain an integral part of the tradition, the High Riders provide students to serve as mascots under the collaborative partnership, which also increased the number of students serving as Raider Red from one to four.

"I have had the unique honor of not growing into the character, but growing with the character," Bridge said. "As I am at the twilight of my Raider Red career I will always look back on this experience as the hardest and most rewarding endeavor I have yet to come by."

CONTACT: Stephanie Rhode, unit assistant director of the center for campus life, (806) 742-5433 ext. 229 or stephanie.rhode@ttu.edu