Friday afternoon marked the end of an era for three students at Texas Tech as they relinquished their iconic roles serving as the Masked Rider and Raider Red.
Lyndi Starr, the 2018-2019 Masked Rider, passed the reins on to Emily Brodbeck during the Transfer of Reins. Afterward, during the Passing of the Guns ceremony, John Brown and Lance Lebron were revealed as two of the students who portrayed Raider Red during the past year.
Starr, a senior agricultural communications major from Mount Vernon, said her past year as the the Masked Rider has been an absolute honor. It was everything she imagined it to be and more.
“I was told at the beginning of my year that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, and that was some of the best advice I could have gotten,” she said in her speech to the crowd.
Over the course of her 323 appearances in the year, she traveled almost 30,000 miles, going as far as Ruidoso, New Mexico, to Houston. Traveling through small towns and big cities, it was amazing to see to see the response no matter how far from Lubbock she went, she said.
“To fill a position that brings joy to so many people was something special to me,” she said in her speech to the crowd. “I saw children and adults overcome their fear of horses to come pet Fearless (Champion) for the first time. I met little girls wanting to be the Masked Rider when they grow up, and I’ve met people that said they came to Tech because we have the coolest mascot.”
Starr has raised the bar for future riders, Stephanie Rhode, Spirit Program director, said in her speech to the crowd. The way Starr was able to handle the challenges of the year, specifically Fearless Champion's injury, was astonishing.
The time spent with Starr during weekly meetings in which they shared tears, laughs and more will be missed, Rhode said.
“Lyndi, think you for all the early mornings you got up to feed the horse/horses and all the evenings with them,” she said. “Thank you for your 12-hour football days, those are long days for the Masked Rider. Lyndi, thank you for the 323 appearances, this obviously is a record breaking number."
In her year as the Masked Rider, Starr said a highlight was her growing relationship with Brown, one of the students portraying Raider Red.
They both attended many events and made several appearances throughout the year, and she found herself looking forward to the Rider only appearances she knew he would be at, she said in her speech to the crowd.
“If you think you saw chemistry between us two mascots, you did,” she said. “I’m glad I got to share my year with (Brown).”
In her speech, Rhode thanked Brown for sharing his time with Starr in the program.
“She and one of the young men who portrayed Raider Red this year have been dating all year,” Rhode said. "I have admired their sweet relationship all year, whether they’re in costume and interacting, or I just see them as normal students hanging out in study hall in our basement.”
Looking back, this position has changed Starr so much from the person who was sitting in the chair last year, she said.
“It awakens a confidence that some of us didn’t know we had,” Starr said to the crowd. “It made me mature so much that even I noticed it. It taught me to never take anything for granted, because once it’s gone, you won’t get it back, to look for the positive in every situation and be understanding. Through it all, it made me soften my heart and be grateful for each and every person.”
To conclude the ceremony, Emily Brodbeck, the new Masked Rider, a graduate student studying wildlife, aquatic and wildlands science and management from Lubbock, was formally introduced as the 2019-2020 Masked Rider and presented with the traditional mask, black bolero hat and scarlet and black cape from Starr.
“I’m incredibly excited for this upcoming year, and I’m incredibly honored to be serving as the 58th Masked Rider for Texas Tech University,” Brodbeck said. “I look forward to all the adventures that Fearless Champion and I will be going on this year and beating everyone in between. Wreck'em.”
Following the Transfer of Reins, the two outgoing Raider Reds, previously anonymous, were publicly honored during the Passing of Guns ceremony.
Brown, a senior industrial engineering major from Melissa representing Saddle Tramps, appeared at 242 events as Raider Red.
Getting to be Raider Red has truly been learning experience, Brown said. Putting on that costume, he said he can be a completely different person, an experience that has left him more outgoing.
“This was truly a great experience and honor of my life,” he said. “Everyone I got to meet has really made an impact on my life.”
Lebron, a junior restaurant hotel and institutional management major from New Braunfels also representing Saddle Tramps, appeared at 191 events as Raider Red.
As Raider Red, Lebron said he has had amazing experiences, from performing with the Cheer Squad in Daytona to being at the football and basketball games.
He encourages other students to try out.
“It’s something that you will never get to experience unless you strive for it and try out for. That’s the thing I like to touch on, a lot of people always ask me, ‘Hey, how can I try out for Raider Red?’ or ‘Hey, do you think I should be Raider Red?’ I tell everyone yes.”
Saying goodbye to the current mascots at the ceremonies is always a somewhat melancholy experience, Rhode said, but she is also always looking forward to seeing the next group of students.
As the new students don their masks, Rhodes said she advises them to enjoy every minute.
“Enjoy it, do every appearance you can,” she said. “Savor it, enjoy it, that’s the best advice I can give. You only get to do it for one year, so really enjoy the experience.”