High Rider Jacey Ross and Saddle Tramp Triston Colquett served as the beloved mascot for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Texas Tech University students Jacey Ross of Kenai, Alaska, and Triston Colquett of Lubbock, were revealed today (April 23) as the students who served as the Raider Red mascot for the 2019-2020 academic year. The two were unmasked at the annual Passing of the Guns ceremony at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
“It was such a joy working with Triston and Jacey during their year as Raider Red,” said Bruce Bills, head cheer and mascot coach. “They always brought high energy, creativity and passion for Texas Tech that showed at each of their appearances and game performances.”
Ross, a mechanical engineering major who will graduate with her master's degree in May, and Colquett, a kinesiology major who graduated in August, and their assistants attended more than 100 on- and off-campus events, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Raider Red competed at the National Cheerleaders Association & National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in the mascot division. For the first time in university history, Raider Red was named the collegiate champion.
Below, Ross and Colquett share some of their experiences as the beloved mascot.
Q: What was it like to represent the university and the Spirit Program as Raider Red?
Ross: “It was such an honor. It's really awesome to be able to represent your school in general, but getting to do it as Raider Red was even better. I think being the mascot was probably one of the absolute best ways to represent Texas Tech. Raider Red is one of the main things people think about when they think about Texas Tech. Getting to be him, and getting to be part of the Spirit Program, was really a privilege.”
Colquett: “It was such an honor to represent the university as Raider Red. As Raider Red, you are the face of the university, and what you do as Raider Red affects the university. So, I always felt a responsibility to better the image of Raider Red and the university every time I got in the suit.”
Q: What was your favorite part of being Raider Red, and did it live up to your expectations
going into the role?
Ross: “My favorite part about being Raider Red was interacting with people. I love going to games and everything, but we do a lot of other events, too. So, all of the requests people put in, going to those events, and just having the one-on-one interactions with people, getting to make people smile, that's my favorite part of being Raider Red. And it definitely lived up to my expectations and more. I was a mascot in high school, so I'd already had a little taste of doing that, or being able to make people smile, but doing it as Raider Red was way better. He's so well known. The character's just really awesome to play, too.”
Colquett: “My favorite part about being Raider Red was, when in suit, Raider Red could make a person's day just by stopping for pictures. That was what I loved doing, taking pictures with everyone I could! Also, I loved making people smile and laugh as Raider Red.”
Q: What memory will stick with you, and why?
Ross: “I got to do an event where I showed up at a hospital. There was a 4-year-old girl who had just overcome cancer, so I got to be there when she rang her bell. That was definitely the most memorable part for me. I will always remember it because of the emotional aspect of it and the excitement of getting to be there with her for her last appointment, and I got to sit with her. I got to go over there when she rang her bell and the atmosphere of that – that's one of the coolest things I've done in my life.”
Colquett: “That would be my trip to Omaha as Raider Red for the College World Series! This trip will always stick with me because of the great memories I made with the Spirit Program and with Stephanie Rhode, the spirit director. Also, I'll remember the memories made with fans at the College World Series.”
Q: How difficult was it to stay quiet and in character?
Ross: “A lot of people do have issues with the quiet part. I don't know what exactly I do, but my mind just kind of goes into a groove. Whenever I put on a suit, there's a rush of adrenaline. You have a lot more enthusiasm and everything. But, I wasn't much of a talker in the suit, even to some of the people in Spirit Program. I didn't really have an issue not talking. I think it was more of my mindset. But, there are times it gets to you. There were three or four times I can remember where I was laughing and could not keep it quiet. I think I left the room because I was laughing so hard. I didn't want people to hear it. It didn't happen too often, but when it did happen, you just try to make it as quiet as possible.”
Colquett: “For me, it was very difficult to stay quiet in character because I am a very talkative person. So, when I saw someone I knew, it was very hard not to whisper in their ear! Being born and raised in Lubbock, I have always had a love for Raider Red, so when the time came to be Raider Red, I stepped up to the challenge and ran with it.”
Q: What are your plans after you pass the guns to the next Raider Red? Any advice
Ross: “I will be graduating with my master's degree this semester, then I'm going to be going somewhere, hopefully, to work. My degree is in mechanical engineering, so, ideally, I'd be designing medical products or something in that field. My advice for the other Raider Reds: Enjoy it. Enjoy all the little events. I think the games and everything are obviously the ones that you want to do, but take advantage of all of the opportunities to travel. Take advantage of every opportunity to go somewhere because I got to travel a ton, and it was awesome. But also, all the events at home, don't take any of them for granted. Enjoy every single one of them because there's always something you can do to make someone smile or do something that you'll remember.”
Colquett: “I plan on going to nursing school to become a nurse. The advice I would pass to the next Raider Red would be to always take the extra picture and always do the extra event because you never know which event you will cherish the most. Also, keep your grades up!”
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add or mention about being Raider Red or your
time at Texas Tech?
Ross: “We have an amazing Spirit Program. They've won nationals, but they're also really inviting and involved. They're a fun group, honestly. When I was a mascot in high school, there wasn't a spirit program at all. So, coming in and having one as well established was very inviting, and it was a really great experience for me. Texas Tech, too. Anywhere you go, everyone is always so happy to see Raider Red and the Spirit Program. Lubbock, I think, is the best place to go to college. I came from Alaska, and I listed a lot of places to go to college, and I'm really glad that I went to a place with a fun environment. We have all of the fans all right here rooting for one team, one school, and that environment is really awesome.”
Colquett: “Being Raider Red was such an honor, and I hope the people I encountered over the year being Raider Red enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs. I will always look for more ways to better myself because of Raider Red. Being Raider Red made me grow a lot as a person and helped me realize what I wanted to do in life. So, I am very grateful for the opportunity to be Raider Red and will cherish it for the rest of my life.”
About Raider Red
Texas Tech's costumed mascot was born in the early 1970s when the Southwest Conference passed a rule that prohibited live animal mascots at out-of-town games. With the Masked Rider as the official mascot, Jim Gaspard, then a member of the Saddle Tramps, created the Raider Red character from drawings by cartoonist Dirk West to represent the university at road football games.
Raider Red is a public relations mascot who interacts with the crowds at athletics events and poses for pictures. In 2012, Raider Red was the Capital One National Mascot of the Year, winning a $20,000 scholarship to help fund the university's mascot program. In 2021, Raider Red won the National Cheerleaders Association & National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in the mascot division for the first time in the university's history. To be Raider Red, students must be a member of the Saddle Tramps or the High Riders.