Throughout the school year, there is one fan cheering on the Red Raiders at every event.
Raider Red has been a tradition for many years at Tech, and with the recent Passing of the Guns ceremony, John Brown and Lance Lebron reflected on the season they had as the popular campus mascot.
Brown, a senior industrial engineering major from Melissa, said he first became interested in the mascot position in 2016 when the then Raider Reds talked him into trying out. One of his favorite parts has been going out and interacting with people in the community.
“I got to see how Raider Red would bring life to anybody, old or young,” Brown said. “I got to turn somebody’s day around just by having them see me, which was a really awesome experience to be a part of.”
Some of the highlights from Brown’s time as Raider Red include being able to travel to Omaha, Nebraska, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the College World Series and Final Four games.
The events around the Lubbock community are also experiences Brown said he will never forget.
“Any interaction is great,” he said. “It was a lot of fun getting to be a part of the tradition here at Tech.”
If anyone is interested in trying out for Raider Red, Brown said they have to remember the more they put into it, the more they will get out of it.
As the new Raider Reds take position in the fall, Brown said he hopes they remember who Raider Red is, what he represents and hope they continue to bring his spirit to every event in the Lubbock community.
“I hope they continue to be the cocky, goofy cowboy that he is,” Brown said. “Raider Red is the public relations mascot of Tech, so they need to keep the tradition going and be a good face for the university.”
Bruce Bills, the head cheer and mascot coach, said Brown was new to the mascot world and entered the program as an assistant to the mascot program in 2017. Brown was polite and well-mannered but also reserved at first.
“Out of costume, (Brown) was very shy, but when you put him in costume, he was a different person,” he said. “That was kind of exactly how we wanted it to be, though. We wanted this to be an iconic symbol of Raider Red, and (Brown) did a great job of that.”
One of Bills’ favorite moments with Brown was getting to see him at the Final Four game in Minneapolis with the basketball team.
“A whole new part of the country who may not have known what Texas Tech was got to experience that,” Bills said. “From what he did at appearances to performances at games really stood out and was a really proud moment for me as a coach.”
Lebron, a junior restaurant, hotel and institutional management major from New Braunfels, said he has been part of the mascot world since high school, but Raider Red was a different experience than he previously had.
“It was tons and tons of more fun and helpful,” Lebron said. “It taught me a lot of things and showed me a lot of things I could improve on.”
The football games were some of Lebron’s highlights as Raider Red. Seeing how big of a crowd it was and getting to see how happy the fans were to cheer on the team was an unforgettable feeling, he said.
Lebron worked as a mascot throughout his high school career and currently works as a mascot instructor for the National Cheerleading Association, he said. This previous experience made it easier to slip into Raider Red’s shoes and embody his character.
“It taught me how to take mascoting experiences from each character and use those interactions to better Raider Red as a whole,” Lebron said.
Lebron came to Tech with the intention of auditioning for the role of Raider Red, Bills said. He also started out as the assistant to the mascot program in 2017 and became the full Raider Red in 2018. Since Lebron had previous mascot experience, Bills said it made it easier on him to transition into the position.
“He was one of those students who was very creative in his skits, movements and personification of Raider Red,” he said. “He always brought a lot of energy to the character.”
Seeing Lebron on the mat with Co-ed Cheer at nationals, Bills said the things he did in the routine were so thought out he brought out a whole new energy for mascots on the stage.
The Spirit Program strives to not only teach students about the spirit of Tech, but also to teach valuable life skills, like time management, Bills said, and Lebron and Brown both exemplified these qualities well. He hopes they can pass it on to the next Raider Red generation.
“Raider Red is Texas Tech’s biggest fan, so I hope (future Raider Reds) will continue to be the spirit at games and events,” he said. “I expect them to take it and keep running with what we’ve got going here.”