As a Sports Information Director, one of my duties is making sure the schedule for each of our sports teams is online in a timely fashion and remains up-to-date throughout the season. With this comes the excitement and challenge of planning out work patterns for the year, marking certain weeks as ones to look forward to or dread due to the abundance of events.
When I accepted a position working in the Athletic Department at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, I knew there would be one such week that would provide a new challenge for myself due to unfamiliarity: Rodeo Week.
Let me explain. I’ve been around sports for the better part of my entire life. If given the opportunity to watch a sport, chances are I can figure it out to the point where I can cover it sufficiently for one of our programs. The sport that provided the biggest unknown when I accepted this job was Rodeo, which falls under the jurisdiction of our department and, just this past weekend hosted their 44th Annual home event.
RELATED: 44th Annual SWOSU Rodeo Recap
Rodeo provides a unique challenge because it’s the only sport we offer that is not sanctioned by the NCAA. Instead, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) is the governing body for the circuit and all ten regular season rodeos are contested against the same 18 schools from Kansas and Oklahoma that make up the Central Plains Region. Since the governing is done by the NIRA, all schools ranging from junior college to NCAA Division I compete against each other during the rodeos.
To me, that means there are no stats to be kept and no results or files to be sent to my fellow SIDs. The rodeo circuit takes care of all of that, but that still didn’t keep me from finding my way to the press box for the majority of each performance. While I am willing to get close to the action, I’m also very certain that it’s a sport I could never have competed in and it’s helped to give me a great respect for the heart and determination of the contestants who lay it on the line out in the arena.
This past weekend was the culmination of my fourth Rodeo week and last summer I was able to travel to Casper, Wyoming for the championship event of the college rodeo season, the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR). While I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as one needs to be to give the sport it’s just coverage, I feel like I’ve reached the point where I’m comfortable using the statement, “It’s not my first rodeo.”
Congratulations to Jake Stemo, who takes 1st in Bareback at the SWOSU Rodeo! @SWchampfactory pic.twitter.com/9OQOOMC67N
— SWOSU Athletics (@SWOSUAthletics) April 10, 2016
In three and a half years covering rodeo for my school, I’ve had the opportunity to cover our teams at three CNFR’s, which have produced two national runners up and nine individuals who earned a top-ten national finish. Mix in that SWOSU alum Sage Kimzey has won two straight professional bull riding world titles on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit, and you have some impressive accomplishments in a recent time period. Simply put, there’s great rodeo in the state of Oklahoma.
From my experiences in the past three-plus years, I would urge any self-proclaimed sports fan to get out to the local rodeo and enjoy this very exciting form of competition. I don’t think you’ll leave disappointed.