Students Share Rodeo Tradition

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

“I’ve been involved in it too long to not do it,” senior Kristi Lammers said, summing up the general opinion of every other person at practice on a Wednesday afternoon.

They squint against the afternoon sun that shines in their eyes. The dust blows in their face. But these students all share a love of rodeo, so they pay no attention to the weather.

They huddle in sweat shirts and flannel shirts, oblivious to their dusty blue jeans and muddy boots as they concentrate on calf roping, barrel racing and bareback riding.

To its members, the SDSU Rodeo Club is more like extended family than a group of strangers with a common interest.

Now in its 50th year at SDSU, Rodeo coach Jerry McCutcheon said the team is as strong as ever, especially with the variety of backgrounds and interests its members have.

McCutcheon said the rodeo team is not made up of the strictly agricultural majors anymore.

“In the past it was about 75 percent agriculture, but now we have a lot of diversity,” he said.

The team is now made up of about 30 to 35 percent agriculture-related majors, and others can range anywhere from nursing to graphic design.

Lammers said that she came to SDSU because she wanted a quality education, but the land grant school provides her an opportunity to pursue her rodeo interests as well.

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t getting a good education, but coming here I could do both,” she said.

The business econ major from Miller said she may have to take a break from the sport for a while when she goes to San Diego to study interior design.

Senior advertising major Marci Weiss also said the the ability to continue a tradition. It’s one that began for her when she was in 4-H in elementary school was an added incentive to coming to SDSU.

Weiss also said that when she travels to competitions, she can reunite with friends met at past rodeos, as well as making new friends from across the nation.

This interest that all club memebers share requires as much discipline as love of the sport, though.

Students on the team say they spend anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week practicing, taking care of their horses and competing at rodeos all over the Midwest.

The team has had two rodeos already this fall, with their last in Fargo on Oct. 17 and 18. They have a busier schedule in the spring, trying to do their best in seven more competitions.

Some of the members take on part-time jobs to help offset the costs of their participating.

And the costs are hefty.

Senior Construction Management and Pre-law major David Brooke said that the hobby can cost him thousands of dollars every year.

Most of the students on the team bring their own horses from home for their seasonal practices and competitions.

That means they have to pay for a place to board them. Then, of course, they have to feed them.

But students cannot take care of their horses if they are not nearby. They also have to maintain and pay for trucks and trailers to get their horses to practice and competitions.

Competitions can bring in prize money, but never enough to meet their expenses.

Brooke said that to offset the costs, he and many others on the team have to work “at least 20 hours a week.”

Given all that comes with being involved with rodeo-responsibilities, major expenses, time commitments and juggling schedules-no one said they would ever consider giving it up.

Brooke and senior Scott Varllek said they will be involved with rodeo in some aspect or another “’til we die. We can do it the rest of our lives.”

#1.886720:925033739.jpg:Broncriding.jpg:Freshman Joe Gunderson, a New Prague, Minn. native, practices bareback riding.: