The Sooner Schooner first appeared at an Oklahoma football game in 1964, and in every appearance for 57 years, has been driven by a man. That ended at tonight’s Bedlam game in Norman, as OU senior Darby Dean took the reins.
Dean is president of Oklahoma’s RUF/NEK Lil’ Sis program, part of the school’s spirit team that is responsible for the Sooner Schooner, the ceremonial shotguns, and other gameday traditions. OU RUK/NEKS was created in 1915, but the Lil’ Sis group did not launch until 1973. Now, a woman has finally had the honor of driving the Schooner onto the field at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“It was the most indescribable experience ever,” Dean said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe, who is very excited to be on hand for this historic moment. “I wish I had words to say to answer that question, but I don’t. It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she added, when asked what it was like behind the reins.
“It made me appreciate our history so much. We’ve come so far since 1973 when we were founded, and to see us here today in 2020 and the strides that we have made the past few years is amazing. It just makes me so proud.”
HISTORY!!! First time EVER a woman takes the reigns for the Sooner Schooner. Darby Dean was amazing! Proud to be here for this moment in college football history! @OU_Football @OU_Athletics pic.twitter.com/8Wbh3AyYU0
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) November 22, 2020
The Sooner Schooner is one of the most famous traditions in all of college football. It was pretty surprising to find out that a woman had never driven it before tonight, but it is very cool that we got to witness history here all the same.
Video of Darby Dean’s historic ride from tonight’s broadcast on ABC:
Congratulations to Darby Dean.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) November 22, 2020
Congratulations to her on this incredible honor. This will definitely be a night that she will never forget.
Oklahoma football leads rival Oklahoma State in tonight’s Bedlam matchup, 27-13. The game is being broadcast on ABC.