A Curry County native has inherited a famed cape and mask.
Texas Tech University student Kevin Burns was named the 2007-2008 Texas Tech Masked Rider, Lubbock university officials announced Friday.
The Masked Rider has been a symbol of Texas Tech for decades.
Atop a black quarter horse, wearing black clothes, a mask, bolero hat and cape, the rider leads the Texas Tech football team onto the field and travels across the Southwest representing the university.
“This is going to be an exciting year,” Burns said.
“I’ve been looking forward to doing this for a long time. The Masked Rider is a Texas Tech icon, and I can hardly believe I get to be a part of this tradition,” the student said.
Burns is a junior animal science major who graduated from Texico High School in 2004, according to his mother, Peggy Burns.
As the masked rider, he will make hundreds of appearances at athletic events, parades and rodeos across the Southwest.
Burns was born on a horse-breeding farm and had his picture taken astride a mount at 2 days old, according to a Texas Tech press release.
He grew up showing and training horses and spent his first two years at Texas Tech as a member of the university’s Horse Judging Team. Last summer, he flew to Europe to help teach horsemanship clinics in Germany and Austria.
He is such an avid horseman — and Red Raider — that as a child he told anyone who’d listen he was going to be the Masked Rider someday, the release reads.
“I grew up watching the Masked Rider,” Burns said. “I was a Texas Tech fan and I worked with horses. It was just something I wanted to do.”
He is the 46th student to serve as the official Masked Rider.
Becoming a rider is “a fairly rigorous process,” Texas Tech spokesperson Cory Chandler said.
Riders must have good grades, good communication skills, pass driving tests and be adept on a horse.
Burns assumes the role from Amy Bell, who drove 12,000 miles and made more than 100 appearances as the 2006-2007 mascot. Bell, an animal and food science major, will graduate in August and enter the equine industry.