Rodeo club ‘has at it’ for 50 years

Rebecca Schultze

Rebecca Schultze

For 50 years the SDSU Rodeo Club has brought together men and women to maintain an interest in the sport of rodeo, bring prospective college students to SDSU, to promote relationships among students interested in rodeo and to represent SDSU in rodeo competitions in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

“The rodeo club pulls together people who have an interest in western agricultural heritage,” rodeo club advisor and rodeo team coach Terry McCutcheon said. “It gives the members involved an opportunity to remain active in activities that really interest them outside of the normal classroom activities.”

McCutcheon’s predecessor H.L. Hutchinson said that the rodeo club brings a lot of students to SDSU.

“It gives a lot of students something to participate in, a sense of identity and belonging,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson, who spent 36 years as the rodeo club advisor before McCutcheon took over four years ago, said that the club affects the responsibility level of the students involved.

“Most people don’t realize that if you bring a horse to school with you, well, that’s a major undertaking,” he said, citing two-a-day feedings. “It’s not like having a cat or a goldfish.”

The 50-year rodeo club history begins with Guy Hamm, who graduated in 1952 from SDSU. Hamm tried to start a rodeo club on campus for four years, but the SDSU president at that time would not allow it. Bob Penfield, a year younger than Hamm, took advantage of an administration change between his junior and senior year, and on the new president’s first day, Penfield was given the go-ahead to pursue a new club.

“[The president] was surprised we didn’t already have a rodeo club,” he said. “He said, ‘have at it. You have my blessing’.”

Penfield said that there were about 40 charter members.

“We had meetings all winter and practiced a lot,” he said.

Roping practices took place north of where the current outdoor rodeo arena is, and the arena was constructed out of used snow fence and used wooden posts.

“We fielded a team that year and three of us went to rodeos at Laramie [Wyo.] and Ft. Collins [Colo.] because they were on the same weekend and only about 100 miles apart,” Penfield said. “We were the first team from SDSU.”

This year, the club boasts 58 members, one of the largest memberships the club has ever had.

“We have quite a few seniors this year,” McCutcheon said, adding that several members were called up to duty with the National Guard.

Senior and four year Rodeo Club member Beau Wisness from Keene, N.D., recognized the advantage of a large senior class.

“I think if [the men’s rodeo team] get on the same page we have a pretty good shot of winning the team championship at regions,” he said.

The rodeo team, which stems from the rodeo club, participates each year in the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo. The club sponsors the rodeo, providing all of the behind-the-scenes work and handling the business aspect of the rodeo. This year it will be held April 3 through April 6 at the Swiftel Center.

McCutcheon noted that the rodeo club has a unique alliance. Jim and Steve Sutton of the multi-generational Sutton Rodeo Inc. provide the rodeo stock and Tim Richter is the executive director of the Swiftel Center. All three are SDSU alumni and had ties with the SDSU rodeo club in their pasts.

Hutchinson summed up his 36 years of experience with this group.

“It’s been a lot of fun and certainly not a boring group to work with,” he said. “I’ve never had a reason to be ashamed of any of the people and a lot of sense to be proud of them.”

#1.887129:4101062815.jpg:rodeo.jpg:Graduate student Cory Skamp, former SDSU rodeo team member, at a practice last year.: