Texas Tech University has named Cameron Hekkert of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, as its 59th Masked Rider. Hekkert is a senior sport management major in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Honors College and will begin studying in the School of Law in fall 2021. She will serve in the Masked Rider position for the 2020-2021 academic school year.
Emily Brodbeck, a graduate student from Lubbock majoring in wildlife, aquatic and wildlands science and management in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR), has now passed the reins of iconic black steed Fearless Champion to Hekkert as the summer semester comes to a close and Red Raiders prepare for a return to campus.
“Cameron is very personable, smart and enthusiastic,” said Stephanie Rhode, director of the Spirit Program. “She’s kind and easy to work with, and I know that as we hand the reins to her, she recognizes what it means to serve and represent our university. She’s been around the program so much, through the High Riders and as an assistant to previous Masked Riders, and has put herself in a really good position to understand the university, the Spirit Program and how our traditions work.”
As the 58th Masked Rider, Brodbeck completed a record 360 appearances during the 2019-2020 academic year, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that led to the closure of campus and the cancellation of countless events in the spring.
“Emily has been a fantastic representative of the university, and as a hometown girl, it was even more important to her that she not miss any appearances in Lubbock,” Rhode said. “We always find such great students to fill this role. They are some of the best students at the university, and Emily is no exception. She’s very smart, very patient and being the Masked Rider has allowed her to grow, mature and gain an incredible amount of self-confidence.”
Brodbeck said while the pandemic definitely changed the last part of her service as Masked Rider, it did not take away from the overall experience of representing the university.
“Having the honor of representing the university as the Masked Rider is indescribable,” Brodbeck said. “Having the opportunity to represent the university I love with Fearless Champion, the horse who became my best buddy, surrounded by the best of family, friends and fans, is something that is incredibly unique and has forever changed me as a person and a Red Raider. I learned so much from the people I met from all over the country and had the opportunity to be a part of something so historic and special.”
Brodbeck had a few words of wisdom for Hekkert as she begins her service as Masked Rider.
“My main advice to Cameron is to take things seriously, but have a lot of fun and make the absolute best of your short time,” Brodbeck said. “Although I had more time than most, it still went by incredibly fast. I learned to never say ‘no’ to an event because it may end up being your favorite one, and, with the current possibility of canceled events, you may not get another opportunity like it.”
Brodbeck is currently working on her master’s thesis and will graduate in May. She hopes to start her professional career soon after graduation.
“I plan on staying in Lubbock for the near future, but because of Texas Tech, my opportunities are endless,” Brodbeck. “Going into my year serving as the Masked Rider, I expected it to be an amazing experience, but it was that and so much more. It definitely exceeded my expectations.
“There are so many extraordinary people behind the scenes who became instrumental in my life and shaped my path. I started this year more timid and nervous, but I am leaving this position a changed, stronger person. I have grown so much and will endlessly value the time I was able to be a part of this program.”