For five months, 38 games, a Big 12 Championship, and an NCAA tournament, the Red Raiders stepped on the court this season with one main goal in mind: the Final Four.
But it took years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to the game for these players to reach the top. Many of them leaned on their families as constant support through the process.
Jarrett Culver’s parents, Regina and Hiawatha Culver Jr., said it was important to support their son every step of the way.
“It’s very important because it helps to see a familiar face. It gives you that edge, that extra energy, that boost that I can do this,” said Hiawatha. “I’m doing this for my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, my aunt, somebody.”
Culver found his passion for sports at an early age, testing the waters with soccer, football, and basketball. His parents supported him when he ultimately chose basketball as his dedicated bath.
Alongside his brothers, Texas Tech Track and Field athlete Trey Culver, and Wayland Baptist Basketball player JJ Culver, they grew up pushing each other to the next level.
“They would play and JJ and Trey would beat Jarrett. He would be okay, but he wanted to play again,” said Regina.
Over the years, Jarrett grew in skill, character, and faith. Every Sunday, he could be found sitting in the pew alongside his family at church. As the pastor, Hiawatha would lead the worship.
In 2016, Jarrett committed to Texas Tech Basketball, and in 2018, the team made their way to the first Elite Eight under Chris Beard as head coach.
During the last two years, Regina and Hiawatha saw the entire team spend countless hours in the gym.
“This group of guys is so special,” said Regina.
Throughout the seasons, she also saw the bleachers fill with family coming from Texas, and even from different parts of the nation and world.
“It’s about having a family there that really has gone through the struggle; that knows what you had to do to get to where you are,” said Regina.
As the team’s chaplain, Hiawatha gives his words of encouragement before each game. He said they are often not basketball related.
“Anything to encourage them about life,” he said.
With focus turned towards the final dance in Minneapolis, the Culvers said they will be on the sidelines once again, watching their child and the whole team show up.
“I don’t know who is calling us the underdog,” said Regina. “Keep on not picking us. We will just keep going and going and I love it.”