AEC's Lyndi Starr takes the reins as Texas Tech's new Masked Rider
By: Amanda Castro-Crist
A multi-tasking student from Texas Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications is the university's new Masked Rider. Lyndi Starr, a senior from Mount Vernon, took up the university's iconic mask and cape on Friday (Apr. 20) at the school's annual Transfer of Reins Ceremony.
"Lyndi is a very motivated student, and she is a joy to be around," said Erica Irlbeck, an associate agricultural education and communications professor. "The work she turns in is always top-quality, highly creative, and effective. We're so proud of her in her new role as the Masked Rider."
Starr grew up around horses during most of her childhood, but it wasn't until she was about 14-years-old that she really got serious about riding. She continued riding throughout high school, and her passion and dedication led to multiple awards in Texas and Oklahoma. In 2012, Starr was named the 'Texas 4-H State Horse Show Three-Year-Old Stock Horse Futurity Reserve Champion' and the 'Oklahoma Stock Horse Association Youth Year-End Champion.'
"Hard work pays off, I'll say that," Starr said. "Just chisel away at your goal slowly and steadily. It may not happen in a year or two years, it may take four or five years, but if you work hard at it, you'll achieve it."
In 2013, Starr and her horse Blue were recruited to North Central Texas College (NCTC), where she competed as part of the stock horse team and the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Western Horsemanship team. In 2014, she received the 'American Stock Horse Association Collegiate Trainer Award' and was named the '2014 Texas 4-H State Horse Show Stock Horsemanship Champion.' A year later, she was named the 'IHSA Western Regional Reserve Champion.'
"Her desire to be good regardless of her opportunities in the past was her strong suit," said Bill Kaven, who was then an instructor in the equine science program and coach of the stock horse and western horsemanship teams at NCTC.
Starr arrived at Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources during the fall of 2016. She joined the Ranch Horse Team, the Equestrian Team and the Horse Judging Team and began serving as the on-site resident for the Texas Tech Equestrian Center.
In addition to all of the responsibilities of each of these positions and a full course load, Starr began coaching a local FFA and 4-H horse judging team. "I'm just so impressed with her," said Tammy Jaggers, Starr's mother. "She has worked her way through college, she's held down two jobs, has a full school schedule and makes it to all her horse shows. She's unbelievable."
That perseverance was important last year, when the agricultural communications major tried out for the Masked Rider program for the first time. Laurie Tolboom, not Starr, would go on to become the 2017-18 Masked Rider. "I was pretty disappointed when I didn't get it, but at the same time they warned us that most people don't get it when they first try out," Starr said. "So I took a break from it and focused on showing for the ranch horse team."
She returned to the final round of the selection process this year with two more titles to her name, the '2017 Stock Horse of Texas Limited Non-Pro World Champion' and 'Collegiate Limited Non-Pro Year-End Reserve Champion,' and gave it another shot.
When she finally got the call from Tech's Spirit Program Director Stephanie Rhode, she was overwhelmed. "I started shaking, and I cried," Starr remembered. "Then, it was kind of a blur because there's so much emotion."
As Masked Rider, Starr said she looks forward to cultivating a relationship with the public in person and online via social media. She also hopes to be a positive role model and leader to those who aspire to one day wear the mask and cape.
"I believe being the Masked Rider is about far more than attending football games," Starr said. "I want to spread the school spirit that brings West Texans together as a family, and I want to inspire others to attend college, to set goals and go after them."
CONTACT: Scott Burris, Interim Chairman, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-8689 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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