We take our mascots seriously here the Lone Star State. While all are adored, some have origin stories larger than life. If you’re curious for more, please see our second installment of Mascot Minute, here.
Texas Tech can thank a gutsy student for the marvelous creation of the masked rider tradition. Initially proposed as a prank by his pals, one student shook up the regular Texas Tech football entrance routine when he led the team onto the field riding a trusty palomino. Dressed in a scarlet red satin cape made by the Home Economics Department and strapped into a pair of borrowed cowboy boots, the class of ‘37 rider coincidentally turned a dare into a timeless tradition.
The students pulled the same prank on a few more occasions that 1936 season. However, the Masked Rider did not resurface until the 1950s when another Tech student was asked to step up and re-create the spirit once again. In 1953, Texas Tech’s football coach DeWitt Weaver headed to Jacksonville, Florida, for the Gator Bowl. He was riding on an impressive 10-1-0 record, hoping to earn the team an opportunity to join the new Southwest Conference. He wanted a way to build an even more energetic atmosphere around the Red Raiders. So, Weaver asked a student, Joe Kirk Fulton, to ride the horse and become the university’s official mascot.
Fulton rushed onto the football field on New Year’s Day 1954 riding a horse named Blackie. According to reports from those in attendance of the 1954 Gator Bowl, the crowd sat in silence out of pure disbelief before bursting into roaring cheers. The sensational entrance set the standard for Texas Tech forevermore.
Texas Tech has now seen 58 riders on 14 horses since the beginning of the Masked Rider. Currently, the masked rider position passes on to each new student under careful consideration. In addition to applying, Riders must pass a written horsemanship test. Then they are judged on equestrian skills and an interview. Given the prestigious honor of the tradition, becoming the Masked Rider is now based on both skill and the ability to exemplify the spirit of the university. It is also a commitment of hard work, as the horse, the rider, and assistants travel more than 15,000 miles a year for games and other events.
A spontaneous beginning spun into a spirited tradition. It has made Texas Tech’s majestic Masked Rider one of the most unique mascots and aspects of the university. Those who ride today know that they represent more than just the red and black; they exemplify one of the most noble traditions, and ride for Texas Tech University students both past and present.
Certainly, one of the most sophisticated canines in the Lone Star State, Texas A&M University’s Reveille is a dearly beloved Collie in Aggieland and beyond. Commonly known as “Miss Rev,” the Aggies’ mascot holds a lot of history and authority; being the highest-ranking member among Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, she wears five silver diamonds and outranks even the Corps Commander. According to Aggie tradition, if Reveille falls asleep in a cadet’s bed, the cadet must find another place to rest out of respect for the First Lady of Aggieland; and if she barks in class, the professor is expected to end class because “Miss Rev is bored.”
There are many stories of how the first Reveille found her way to campus. The most common tale has it that she first appeared in January 1931. On a drive back to campus, a group of cadets accidentally hit a small black and white dog with their vehicle and thoughtfully (but secretly) brought her back to their dorm despite campus rules. However, she soon blew her cover and established her name when she loudly barked along to the bugler’s wake up call, “Reveille,” the next morning. The following football season, Reveille led the Aggie Band onto the field as the official mascot.
The tradition of Reveille’s breed came later, when a Shetland Sheepdog was donated by a Texas A&M graduate to be named Reveille II; and then Reveille III became the first full-blood Rough Collie, which is the breed every Reveille has belonged to since. And although she reigns like a queen among the student body, her free reign on campus ended in 1960. This was when her care was officially handed over to a Mascot Corporal, a sophomore cadet in Company E-2. A prestigious responsibility among Aggies, a new handler is chosen each spring. The beloved Collie lives with her handler for the year. She joins the student’s full schedule of classes, dates, holiday travels, and each of Reveille’s Aggie function appearances.
Upon time for retirement, various organizations on campus conduct a thorough search to find the next Reveille. Texas A&M’s current mascot, Reveille IX, was chosen to take over in May of 2015, and came all the way from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Aggieland treats each Reveille like royalty. Upon their passing, a formal funeral takes place outside the north end of Kyle Field. This is where all former Reveilles, including Reveille I, have a special scoreboard to watch their Aggies win.