Texas Tech University on Friday (April 21) named Laurie Tolboom, a graduate student from Dublin, Texas, as its 56th Masked Rider. Tolboom will serve in the position for the 2017-18 academic year.
The 55th Masked Rider, Charlie Snider, donned the mask and cape one last time and passed the reins of horse Fearless Champion to Tolboom during the annual Transfer of Reins ceremony at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
“I’m approaching this year with so much excitement. It’s so incredible to be a part of this amazing tradition that has been so important to everybody,” Tolboom said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Masked Rider is their favorite part of Texas Tech. It’s a big reason why people come to games and why people love Texas Tech so much.”
Tolboom completed her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications in December and now is pursuing her master’s degree in mass communications. She received her first horse and began riding at age 5, and soon after, enrolled in lessons, horse camps and 4-H. Her knowledge of horses continued to grow through high school, with Tolboom competing in English and Western show events.
As part of 4-H, Tolboom learned about horse and tack care, riding and horse judging. She held several leadership positions, including president, and led lessons and discussions on horses with younger members. She was named 2012 Youth World Champion and 2015 Reserve World Champion from the American Paint Horse Association.
Tolboom joined the Texas Tech Equestrian Team as a freshman and served as Western Team Captain her sophomore year. She earned multiple awards and top-five placings as part of the team.
In 2014, Tolboom served on the Masked Rider Field Safety Crew, and from 2015 to 2017, as one of the Masked Rider assistants for Snider and McLelland.
Tolboom said her years of working with and teaching others about horses has taught her the importance of strong leadership. Her time in the Spirit program at Texas Tech has taught her the Masked Rider is a living, talking symbol of Texas Tech who represents the ideals of the university and she said she’s ready to fill the mascot’s boots.
“I love promoting Texas Tech and the Lubbock area,” Tolboom said. “It’s an indescribable feeling, joining the ranks of all these amazing people that love Texas Tech as much as I do. To have my name on that list – that’s pretty exciting.”
During his service, Snider completed a record-breaking 312 appearances and traveled 15,000 miles.
“It’s been amazing and an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Snider said. “There is nothing I could say that would completely describe the feelings and everything that goes on throughout the year as Masked Rider.”
Some of his favorite appearances were at schools where his visit may have been the only chance the children will ever have to meet the Masked Rider.
“Those visits are really unique in themselves. Each school is a different experience, and we’re getting kids motivated to do well,” Snider said. “Being able to see the kids and see them get excited kind of just warms your heart. You get to make their day. Watching them react – there’s nothing quite like it.”
The last Masked Rider to hold the record of the most appearances was the 54th Masked Rider, Rachel McLelland (2015-16), with 300. Snider said he is happy he could speak to so many about Texas Tech traditions and his own perspective on the university and the Lubbock community.
“I never thought when I came to Texas Tech that I would be able to share my experiences with as many people as I did this year,” Snider said. “Just being out there and traveling all over the state of Texas and being able to talk to groups of people – I had the opportunity this year to touch so many people’s lives and give them a good day.”
Snider is a senior in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences within the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources majoring in animal sciences with a focus on equine science. He will graduate in May and plans to move to Dallas where he will study chiropractic medicine at Parker University.
“I’m grateful for the service of our 2016-17 Masked Rider, Charlie Snider,” said Spirit Program director Stephanie Rhode. “He’s been an exemplary ambassador of Texas Tech University and leaves big boots to fill.”
(News release from Texas Tech)