Despite canceling the Wreck 'Em Tour in person due to COVID-19, members of the Red Raider Club did not let that stop them as they collaborated with Texas Tech Athletics to host the event virtually on Thursday.
The Wreck 'Em Tour was originally set to begin on Wednesday in Dallas, as football head coach Matt Wells and men’s basketball head coach Chris Beard would travel to four cities across Texas to meet Red Raider fans.
With COVID-19 bringing complications to the tour, baseball head coach Tim Tadlock, former Lady Raider Brittany Brewer and a trio of Red Raider musicians were able to join Wells and Beard on the virtual tour.
Tadlock was the first coach to speak to Red Raider fans tuning in via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. With the baseball team’s season getting cut short at the start of Big 12 play, Tadlock spoke about this season’s team and the potential it had at making a run for a title. Aside from the talent on the team, Tadlock said the team’s chemistry was unmatched. Despite the season ending, he thinks the chemistry will remain as he is looking forward to fall ball.
“Great teammates are great teammates no matter how much time you have off, so I think that’s easy. Usually, it takes a guy to be a great teammate to be a great player,” Tadlock said at the event. “You look at Brian (Klein) and John (McMillon), they made that sacrifice to come back to Lubbock and try to get us back to Omaha and get us in the national championship game. Who knows, they might get the chance still.”
Although the Red Raiders did not get to play out the 2020 season, Tech was scheduled to host its final Big 12 series of the season on Friday. Tadlock used the opportunity to thank the fans who attended the virtual event as Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park would most likely be hosting a sold-out series.
“We’ve got the best fans in the country,” Tadlock said. “Stay safe. When this all wraps up, we will be ready to go and we’re excited.”
Following Tadlock’s appearance, Brewer made a surprise visit as she was recently drafted to the Atlanta Dream after being selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Brewer talked about her experience at the professional level. Despite the complications that have arisen with COIVD-19, Brewer had positive thoughts as the free time has given her more time to improve her craft.
“I am so grateful I still have access to a court, so I can definitely get out there and work on my craft,” Brewer said. “I’m thankful for this time to work on specifics of my game that I wanted to work on and didn’t really have the time to. I’m very grateful for this time.”
Brewer continued to speak about her experience playing for Team USA at the Pan American Games over the summer and how it helped her improve as a basketball player. As she played against some of the best women’s basketball players in the world, Brewer said she learned a lot from the experience.
As a basketball player, Brewer has been watching ESPN’s documentary series about Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, and she said it has motivated her. After the most recent episodes were released, Brewer said watching Jordan spend more time in the weight room made her want to train harder in the gym as she realized how important it is. She added that she has been taking notes while watching the series to help her improve her game.
Although she has more free time with everything being put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Brewer said she is continuing to work out and eat right as she prepares to start her WNBA career. She added that her workout and nutrition plan is kept up with through an application to stay on track from a distance.
Following Brewer’s surprise visit, Wells was the next Red Raider head coach to speak at the event. With the uncertainty of what the 2020 football season will look like, Wells spoke about how he and his staff have handled the situation.
“We’re working hard. We’re putting a lot of time in with our players virtually and trying to stay connected with them through Facetime and Zoom,” Wells said. “We’re spending a lot of time recruiting and the third thing would be game planning.”
Despite the struggles that COVID-19 has brought, Wells said he and his staff are benefitting from the way they have recruited. Wells said a year ago, he got the 2020 class to commit early so he and his staff have been working with the 2021 class since December. After showing the recruits the atmosphere of the Kansas and Kentucky men’s basketball games, Wells said a lot of his top prospects have already committed to being Red Raiders.
The last head coach to speak at the event was Beard. The men’s basketball head coach opened up his time speaking with the fans about his family and how their lives have been affected by the pandemic. He also spoke about his main priority when bringing student-athletes to Lubbock, development. With Beard turning players such as Zhaire Smith, Jarrett Culver and Jahmi’us Ramsey into first-round draft picks, he said coaching guys into being better than they were when they start with the program is a big focus of his.
Beard also spoke about the importance of recognizing the players that helped build the program. Aside from the fan base, he said embracing the former Red Raiders who played for Tech is important when trying to build a culture.
“Nobody is more important than the former players regardless of who you played for,” Beard said to potential former Red Raiders attending the virtual event. “If you wore the Double T, we want you back in Lubbock.”
As Beard was the last member of the Tech Athletics community to speak at the event, the event ended with Tech alumnus Josh Abbott performing a few songs for the fans. Abbott was one of three musicians to sing for the Red Raider fans as Tech alumni Grand Gilbert and William Clark Green also performed virtually from their homes. Concluding the hour-long event, Abbott sang the Matador Song as he said this was the first time he has ever sung the song while playing it on the guitar as well.