Texas Tech's 50th Masked Rider takes the reins

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Bradley Skinner accepted the reins to Midnight Matador Friday, becoming Texas Tech University's 50th Masked Rider.

The Masked Rider is the oldest and most popular mascot of Texas Tech University that still exists today. Originally the Masked Rider started as a dare in 1936 and was then called the ghost rider, because no one knew the rider's identity. The Masked Rider did not become an official mascot until 1954, when Joe Kirk Fulton led the team out onto the field at the Gator Bowl.

Skinner, a junior animal science major from Arvada, Colo., attended Colorado State University (CSU) for three years on his journey to becoming a Red Raider. In the coming year he will promote spirit within the university and goodwill for Texas Tech at athletic events and other school and civic functions across Texas.

Skinner started riding and showing horses at the age of five. He spent nine years in the 4-H horse program and seven years on a 4-H horse judging team. In 2003 he was the youngest member in Colorado 4-H history to achieve Level 4 Master Horseman, the highest horsemanship level attainable in the horse project.

Subsequent to being an active member of the CSU Ranch Horse Team, Skinner became the stallion trainer at the university, being entrusted with full-time care of both client and university-owned stallions.

"After being stallion trainer at CSU for two years, I decided to fulfill a long-time dream and transfer to Texas Tech," Skinner said, "Being the Masked Rider means being a part of something that is bigger than myself, and being able to represent what can happen when someone follows their dreams and works hard every day. Being the Masked Rider is the highest honor any student here can achieve, because it represents Texas Tech – the people, the pride, the tradition and honor of the university."

Christi Chadwell, the 2010-2011 Masked Rider, traveled more than 11,000 miles making appearances at athletic events, rodeos and other functions. She appeared at more than a dozen men's and women's basketball games and several Texas Tech baseball games. Her most cherished appearance was at the Scottish Rite Hospital Farm Days. Because she had been a patient there earlier in her life, being able to be a role model for the children there was one of the highlights of her term as Masked Rider.

Information from: Center for Campus Life, Texas Tech University