The Texas Tech men’s basketball team recorded its first win of the season, 85-60, on Tuesday, but the Red Raiders were not the only winners at the game as sophomore Rylee Albracht secured an appearance from head coach Chris Beard at her wedding.
On Aug. 1, Albracht posted a tweet asking if Tech’s head coach would attend her wedding after her fiancé, Justin Joyce, proposed to her, she said.
“I kind of tweeted it, obviously with high hopes, but I know the man is busy and Twitter is probably the least of his worries,” Albracht said. “I think I might have hyperventilated when he answered me.”
About five hours after her tweet, Beard replied on Twitter. Tech’s men’s basketball coach started by congratulating Albracht and asked for the date of her wedding. He then replied for the second time, saying if the student section was filled with 4,500 students at the Red Raiders’ first game of the season, he would attend and buy Whataburger for everyone at the wedding.
“I didn’t think there was any way he was gonna reply,” Joyce said. “He doesn’t tweet just a whole lot and I’ve never seen anything like that, so I really didn’t think there was a chance he would reply, but whenever he did, I was just blown away. I couldn’t really believe that he had actually replied.”
As the first game of the Red Raiders’ season approached, Beard was reminded of his proposal.
In the special student edition of his Fireside Chat, Albracht and Joyce made an appearance and stood in front of the camera for a breaking news segment reminding students about Beard’s promise.
After the special edition of the Fireside Chat was posted on Twitter, the official Whataburger Twitter account commented on the post, tweeting ‘This is amazing!’ Whataburger then followed with a post telling fans to fill the student section to help the newly-engaged couple have the local celebrity, Beard, attend the wedding. In the tweet, the company also announced they will be at the game to hand out exclusive Tech and Whataburger swag.
On game day, thousands of students lined up before the doors of the United Supermarkets Arena opened. At one point, the end of the line extended towards Chitwood/Weymouth Hall.
When the doors opened, students and fans flooded the arena. A total of 4,866 students filled the student section as the rest of the Red Raider basketball fans helped officially make the game a sellout with 15,098 fans, according to Tech Athletics.
“I guess this is what, my 14th season of Texas Tech basketball and it’s the best opening crowd I’ve seen,” Beard said in the post-game press conference. “There won’t be a better crowd in all of college basketball tonight, no matter where the game’s played, than the one we just had in Lubbock, Texas.”
With a full student section, Beard will attend Albracht and Joyce’s wedding set for May 2020, he said. After the game, Beard recognized the student’s support.
“Just a sincere thank you. Just, so happy for our guys to be able to go out there and see Red Raider Nation show up in force,” Beard said. “A special thank you to our students. Looks like I’ll be going to a wedding here this summer.”
Following the statement, Beard joked with graduate transfer TJ Holyfield asking if he wanted to go to the wedding with him. As he thanked the fans for the turnout, he also gave special thanks to the marketing and promotions staff for helping fill the arena for the Red Raiders’ season opener.
Holyfield also recognized the sellout crowd after playing his first official game as a Red Raider on Tuesday since Tech’s 2019 Foreign Tour in the Bahamas.
“It was more than I expected,” Holyfield said referring to the fans. “It was really great to be able to play in front of a crowd like that again. I think the crowd is the reason why we started off to a good start, and I didn’t think our guys got overwhelmed too much by it, but it was a really good crowd.”
After selling out the United Supermarkets Arena on Tuesday, the Red Raiders will look to play in front of a packed house again with their next game against Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the USA.
“A great crowd, I want to thank the students for coming out, I want to thank the season ticket holders for coming,” Beard said. “There’s probably some season ticket holders tonight that couldn’t be here but it was obvious to me that our loyal season-ticket holders gave their tickets to people tonight because all those seats were filled by my eyes.”