Raider Red is now nationally recognized, with the Capital One Mascot Challenge national championship under his belt, and will have new students beneath the costume.
And a new Masked Rider will be on the saddle.
Texas Tech’s 2012-13 mascots passed their responsibilities, along with their guns and reins, onto next year’s crew Friday, April 19, at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
The traditional Transfer of Reins and Passing of Guns ceremonies recognized two graduating Raider Reds: Zach Bohls, who served three years, and Geoff Waller, who served two years. Their identities were revealed, and they passed their guns and responsibilities as the school’s public relations mascot to a new, costumed Raider Red.
Raider Red revealed
After two and three years of serving in secrecy, they were finally recognized by their leaders and peers, and given a chance to speak in public about their experiences.
Juan Muñoz, vice provost of undergraduate education and student affairs at Tech, spoke of the impact the mascot has on the community.
“I have seen adults and children weep when they meet Raider Red — good weeping,” he said. “When you go out there, and you see families, and all they want to do is shake his hand and be close to him and take pictures, you understand the gravitas, the magnitude, the importance, the significance, the emotional attachment they have with this character, and by extension with this university.”
The Raider Red appearances nearly doubled from the average 150 during the fall 2012 semester while the Capital One challenge was in progress. From August to December, 111 appearances were made. The mascot has already made nearly 50 appearances this spring.
Bohls spoke of his mischievous behavior as the character, saying “you can get away with a lot when you’re wearing a mask.”
Waller, a history and political science major from Lubbock, has gone to Tech sporting events for as long as he can remember, and said he thought countless times about how “cool” it would be to be Raider Red.
Although he didn’t try out until his junior year, he has plenty of experiences to remember.
Waller was the first Raider Red to ride the motorcycle across the field at Jones AT&T Stadium.
“It was an adrenaline rush, and I still think it was a great substitution for the Masked Rider’s traditional entrance,” Waller said.
Bohls, who remained emotional throughout Friday’s event, estimated he spent eight hours a day in character while in California and thought Raider Red would never win after meeting “the greatest mascots” in the country.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “To be recognized as part of the elite mascots in the nation is just unreal, and hopefully it will be remembered at Texas Tech.”
Waller, who describes himself as usually calm and quiet, said being Raider Red was like “playtime as a child,” taking on the character of Raider Red, who is energetic and mischievous.
Being Raider Red was an “escape.”
“It’s humbling a little bit,” he said. “We’re just no one. We’re just regular students, and then all of a sudden, we put on that suit, and we become the face of Texas Tech.”
He wrote down every appearance in a journal and kept record of hours as Raider Red and miles traveled. In total, Waller was in costume for more than 206 hours and traveled 14,658 miles.
For Bohls, leaving the role was emotional. He said he considers Raider Red “a real person” and his “best friend.”
“You get to become this remote to someone else and you get to be who you want,” he said. “... By being an idiot in front of thousands of people and then just seeing one person in the crowd smile is enough.”
Four students involved in Saddle Tramps and High Riders will take on the duties of Raider Red for the coming year.
“It can only go up from here,” Waller said. “With the football season, and I think we’re going to try to do Capital One again this year, so we may go back to those national championships. Anything’s possible.”
New mascot moniker
When Tech purchased Hollywood at Dusk, also called “Woody,” from a ranch in Tulia in mid-January, the university launched a search for the perfect name.
The school announced the winner, Fearless Champion, during Friday’s events. The name was submitted 23 times.
“We opened the contest at (midnight) on Jan. 18, and the winning name was submitted at 12:02,” Rhode said.
The winner of the naming contest is Dr. Corey J. Haggard, an anesthesiologist who graduated from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in 1989. He received season tickets for Tech’s 2013 footbalkl season.
The black, 8-year-old quarter horse gelding was purchased after the program’s longest-serving horse, Midnight Matador, retired Oct. 17. He was the 13th horse to ride for the program.
Midnight Matador is now in the care of Stacy Stockard Moncibaiz, who served as Masked Rider in the 2004-05 season.
Another masked face
He’s most anticipating the new era of Red Raider football.
Every year since 1993 when he was 2 years old and won his first high-point buckle, Waggoner has earned many honors and awards, according to a Tech news release. Competing in American Association of Sheriff Posses and Riding Club playdays, Waggoner has been club and district champion in his age group every year he competed. He won the high point champion saddle in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Waggoner is a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Association of Sheriff Posses & Riding Club, the National Association of Riding Clubs and Sheriff Posses, Better Barrel Races, and a former member of the National Barrel Horse Association, according to the release.
“I think he’s going to be great,” said Wenzel, the 2012-13 Masked Rider. “His experiences from before really give him the ability and also, I think, the humility.”
Wenzel traveled more than 10,000 miles making more than 100 appearances at athletic events, rodeos and other functions.
Former Masked Rider Christi Chadwell said Wenzel was the first rider from the Houston area. The junior education major made two appearances in her hometown: The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and Texas Tech Day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Wenzel said she has a year and a half of school remaining. Masked Riders traditionally serve for one year.
“At the beginning I felt like a year was a really long time, and standing here today I feel like it was yesterday that I was putting the cape on,” Wenzel said. “Today, taking it off was something that was really humbling and fulfilling. I feel like to serve for a university as a whole, and to represent Texas Tech and not yourself, is really cool.”
Wenzel will serve next year on the Masked Rider committee, and will make a few appearances, in which it is tradition for both the former and new riders to attend.
She looks forward to witnessing the new era from a different view.
“It was cool to see everything happening while I was in the position, but it’s definitely going to be the same amount of cool for this next year to see from an outside standpoint how everything goes on,” she said. “To see the new horse riding down our field for the first time is going to be probably pretty emotional, but fun at the same time.”
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Source : http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2013-04-19/new-texas-tech-mascots-take-guns-reins