High Riders is a women's spirit student organization dedicated to promoting and supporting Texas Tech women's athletics by upholding the principles of service, spirit, leadership, tradition and sisterhood.
Maritza Ramirez, a sophomore political science major from San Antonio and president of High Riders, said she heard about the organization at Red Raider Orientation, which later led her to search High Riders on social media pages.
“I joined High Riders because I loved the idea of supporting women's athletics,” she said. “Female athletes have made a huge contribution to Texas Tech University. Our Lady Raider Basketball team has won Texas Tech University a national basketball championship in 1993, and as a female, I know that it is important for me to support other females.”
High Riders recruits new members in the fall and spring semesters, a process planned by the group's potential new member trainer. The group is currently in its 80th class.
“We attend soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball games,” Ramirez said. “All while making lifelong friendships.”
High Riders are fortunate enough to participate in Homecoming activities such as the Carol of Lights, Arbor Day and the Tech Intramural Program, she said. In the spring, High Riders put on the streamer drop at the Lady Raider Play4Kay Pink Out basketball game.
Furthermore, High Riders is one out of two spirit organizations whose members may serve as Tech’s mascot Raider Red.
Ramirez’s favorite thing about being a High Rider is getting to ring Tech’s Victory Bells after a women’s athletic team's win.
“It is amazing to take part in such a beautiful tradition overlooking the Tech campus,” she said.
The easiest part of being a High Rider, Ramirez said, is attending women’s athletic sporting events.
“You know you are there to further the spirit of these amazing group of female athletes, and you wouldn't want to do anything else with your Thursday night,” she said.
The most challenging part of being a High Rider is seeing the emotions of the athletes after a tough loss, she said.
“You want to run up to your favorite player, tell them they did amazing and let them know that we can not wait to see them take the win in the next game,” she said.
High Riders has taught Ramirez responsibility, she said.
“As a High Rider, you have a responsibility to uphold certain Tech traditions and present this university to the world with integrity,” she said. “High Riders know that you must always 'Strive for Honor.'”
Emiliee Encizo, a junior psychology major from Lockney and social chair of the High Riders, said she wanted to be part of an organization that would allow her to become more involved in the school and all of its traditions.
“I ended up getting that along with so much more out of it," Encizo said. "I ended up gaining new skills, friends, and a support system away from home."
Encizo emphasizes High Riders is in no way "Greek," although its recruitment process has some Greek-like qualities.
“The joining process includes attending rush events. We have a bid day, big/little reveal, please tests and initiation,” she said. “It’s not a super hard process, it’s just a time to get to know everyone and learn about what we do.”
To Encizo, being a part of High Riders means she is part of the group that is helping honor all the traditions Tech has.
“I also feel like we are empowering all of our female athletes by showing them that win or lose, good times and bad, they will always have us there ready to cheer them on,” she said.
High Riders is a great organization full of good people, she said.
“It’s taken a lot of hardworking and dedication to get to where we are now; we value every one of our members immensely,” she said. “I found a place to belong in High Riders. I hope other girls have found that with us too.”
Adelina Quintana, a sophomore psychology major from Rio Hondo, pledged in fall 2018 and was recently elected to serve on the executive board for the 2019-2020 school year as the top tier chair.
“I love the friendships I have made within the organization," she said. "From my bid to the girls in my pledge class and even the officers, everyone is very approachable and fun to be around."
Coming from a small town, Quintana said, she rallied a lot of spirit for her 4a teams back home, and now that she cheers for a Big 12 team, it is easy to be involved and be proud of Tech's various accomplishments.
“The hardest thing I have encountered while being a High Rider is the lack of knowledge that other students have of our organization,” she said.
Everyone knows about the Saddle Tramps, she said, so often she will describe it as “the girl version of Saddle Tramps” for others to understand what the organization is about.
“When founded in 1976, our founders felt the struggle between the two organizations, and conquered when we were finally allowed to ring the Victory Bells, and that is still something we have to deal with,” she said.
Quintana enjoys having the privilege of ringing the Victory Bells, she said.
“Not every student on campus can do that,” she said.