Texas Tech football games are happening differently due to COVID-19, but the Saddle Tramps are still doing what they can to get Red Raider fans excited for the games.

Jake Van Horn, a senior public relations major from Weatherford, said the first football game of the season was successful, despite the changes.

“The first game day actually went pretty well. It’s a little different this year just because of all the covid stuff, but for the most part we were all well-adjusted,” Van Horn said.

Gage Brockman, a senior advertising and creative media industries major from Shallowater, said despite the limitations of this football season, he is still proud of his fellow Saddle Tramps.

The Saddle Tramps are going on 84 years of cheering on the Red Raiders. They were founded by Arch Lamb in 1936. Lamb got two of his friends to join him in forming an organization to cheer on the Red Raiders, Van Horn said.

Carlos Rangel, a junior kinesiology major from La Junta, Colorado, said the goal of Saddle Tramps is to bring Tech pride to the game day atmosphere and to get people invested in the game.

To prepare for game days, the Saddle Tramps start by wrapping the Will Rogers statue with crepe paper every Thursday. They also wrap the rest of campus to get the word out about the upcoming football game, Rangel said.

Saddle Tramps wrap Will Rogers and Soapsuds

A Saddle Tramp begins to wrap Will Rogers while sitting on the Will Rogers and Soapsuds statue at Memorial Circle on Thursday Sept. 24, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. for the Texas Tech vs. University of Texas Football game. The Saddle Tramps wrap Will Rogers and Soapsuds and cover campus with streamers before every home game.

On Friday, they wear their Saddle Tramp colors while walking around campus. Then, Saturday’s before the game, they bring in Bangin’ Bertha, prepare the shotguns they shoot off, and clean up the bell tower, Van Horn said.

For the game against the University of Texas, the Saddle Tramps are doing a statue watch where they camp out at popular monuments on the Tech campus.

Saddle Tramps camp out

Saddle Tramps camp out by the Will Rogers and Soapsuds statue during the night before the football game vs. University of Texas on Sept. 26, 2020. The Saddle Tramps camp out overnight to watch the statues to make sure nobody from visiting teams come to mess with them.

Some of these monuments are the Tech seal, Will Rogers statue, Memorial Circle, administrative building and Preston Smith statue, in order to make sure they are not messed with, Brockman said.

Preparations for game days have stayed the same, but there are some changes to what the Saddle Tramps do at the game. 

One of the biggest changes for the Saddle Tramps is not being able to lead bell circles before the football team comes out for the game, Van Horn said.

“Now we’re just in the stands yelling, ringing our big ole cowbells. We are still ringing Bertha, and we’re still shooting off our shotguns,” Van Horn said.

If Tech wins, the Saddle Tramps are responsible for ringing the victory bells. This is the oldest tradition the Saddle Tramps have, Van Horn said.

The changes are understandable, but it is disappointing they cannot lead bell circles anymore, Van Horn said.

This year, the Saddle Tramps are only allowed to have 25 members in the stadium at a time, Brockman said.

“We are just doing our best to keep these traditions going even in these difficult times,” Brockman said.

However, there are some positives to the new game day rules.

“It is nice to not be as crowded in the stands,” Brockman said.

The Saddle Tramps also get to step back and relax a little bit more during the game than they did in previous years, Van Horn said.

Despite the changes, the Saddle Tramps are still out at the games cheering on the Red Raiders and doing their part to make sure the football team has a great game day atmosphere, Rangel said.

“We’re basically cheering our hearts out the entire game, regardless of the score,” Rangel said.

Texas Tech versus Lamar

The Texas Tech Saddle Tramps participated in the home opener against Lamar University at the Jones AT&T Stadium at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. The Red Raiders beat the Cardinals, 77-0.

Rangel’s favorite Saddle Tramp tradition is the Carol of Lights because he loves Christmas and enjoys seeing the cheer during the holiday, he said.

Brockman’s favorite Saddle Tramp tradition is the ringing of the victory bells, he said.

“I am a Lubbock native, and I have lived here all my life and I’ve heard them ring for many years,” Brockman said. “I’m a third generation Red Raider and just to be a part of that it just hits a little bit closer to home.”

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