Provided by Texas Tech Athletics
At the Transfer of Reins ceremony Friday (April 15) at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center on the Texas Tech University campus, the 54th Masked Rider, Rachel McLelland, transferred the reins of horse Fearless Champion to Charlie Snider, a junior from Corinth, where he will serve as the mascot for the 2016-17 academic year.
Texas Tech's Spirit Program director Stephanie Rhode said both students have gone above and beyond to serve the university.
"I am so grateful for the fearless service of these two students, who represent this university at the highest level," Rhode said. "Their efforts and standard of excellence displayed will be remembered for years to come."
At the Transfer of Reins ceremony, McLelland donned the Masked Rider uniform for the last time before handing the mascot role over to Snider.
During her time as the Masked Rider, McLelland logged a record-breaking 300 appearances and traveled 13,000 miles. She traveled to events across the state and nation, including the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, to support the Red Raiders. From school appearances to rodeos to sporting events, parades, horse shows and even a wedding reception, McLelland was constantly on the go during her time as the Masked Rider.
The last Masked Rider to hold the record of the most appearances was the 52nd Masked Rider, Corey Waggoner (2013-14), with 250 appearances.
"This year has been unforgettable," McLelland said. "I truly have few words to describe this year because the experience has blown me away. I knew if I were selected as the Masked Rider it would be the ride of a lifetime, and it has been that and more. I am truly honored to have served Texas Tech in such a way. It is something I will cherish forever."
McLelland is a pre-med student also majoring in anthropology. After serving as the Masked Rider, she plans to study abroad in London for a medical internship in the summer of 2016 and attend medical school for orthopedic surgery after she graduates in May 2017.
Snider, a junior studying animal sciences with a focus on equine science, began riding horses at age 13 and later worked as a horse exerciser for a small barn in his hometown. Soon after he began working at the barn, he purchased his own horse to begin riding.
During his freshman year at Texas Tech, Snider joined the equestrian team in 2013 where he showed both Western and Hunt Seat against colleges and universities in Zone 7, Region 2 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. That region includes universities such as the University of North Texas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas-Austin, West Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University and other schools in the South.
From 2014 to 2016, he served as one of the Masked Rider's assistants for McLelland and the 53rd Masked Rider, Mackenzie White.
Snider said his experience with horses in the past eight years has taught him how to handle many different situations, and being an assistant to the Masked Rider has given him a lot of insight into the program and what it means to be the most iconic symbol for the university.