Bull riding this Friday evening indication of rodeo growth at K-State

Rodeo is becoming a more important part of Kansas State University.

“We have the new horse facilities at the Equestrian Center on the north edge of campus for the K-State Rodeo Club and Rodeo Team members to keep their horses, which has been a real asset to our program,” insisted Adam Pack, club president and junior in park management from Kansas City.

“Our club membership is growing. We have 60 members, while two-thirds of them are very active. That’s nearly double last year, and it’s the younger students, so the club should continue to gain ground,” said Pack, a recreational roper, not entering rodeos.

Managed by the rodeo club, the 21-stall horse barn with accompanying runs is a major improvement for students interested in the sport. The Orville Burtis Arena on the grounds is convenient for riding and practice sessions on a regular basis.

“Before, students kept their horses at a number of commercial stables and really didn’t have a central location to work their horses and train,” added Pack, who keeps his horse there.

“Our rodeo scholarship program has also helped enhance the interest of students  in the sport of rodeo to attend K-State,” insisted Beth McQuad, rodeo club adviser.

“These are only available to rodeo team members who are club members, and other active club members, with recipients selected annually based on their qualifications through application,” McQuad commented.

“Quality of our rodeo team has sometimes suffered in the past, because limited scholarships were available. Students wanted to attend K-State, but there wasn’t enough financial incentive, so they went to another college on a rodeo scholarship,” said Doug Muller, rodeo team coach.

“We had about $13,000 to award in rodeo scholarships this year, which has helped us recruit more top team members,” Muller added.

“Because rodeo is not an NCAA sanctioned sport like football, basketball, track, we are not eligible to get any scholarship support from K-State Athletics,” Pack related.

So, with annual payments for the horse barn and funding rodeo scholarships, money making projects are a major effort of the rodeo club, Pack said.

“We are fortunate to have a few donors supporting the scholarships, including major sponsors, CW Ranch, Brookville, and Dick Edwards Ford, Manhattan. However, the brunt of raising funds still falls on the club,” Muller said.

“A new endowment to support the rodeo scholarships has just been announced which will help, too,”  McQuad emphasized.

“Our Championship Bull Riding at 7:30, Friday evening, in Weber Arena on the Manhattan campus is the major fund raiser for scholarships,” Pack said.

This second annual event is expected to draw 35 contestants from throughout the country, with Brad Vogele of Arkansas City again to provide bucking bulls.

“Brad has had the CBR Bull of the Year. Top cowboys like to compete on his stock,” Muller noted.

“A bull riding is a lot different than a rodeo,” McQuad contended. “It’s more of a performance, with more action, color, interaction with the spectators. The crowd can really get involved.”

Helping with this will be return announcer Scott Fry, along with bull fighters Ethan  McDonald, Chris Monroe and Daniel Unruh, and funnyman-barrel man Corey Britt.

“There’ll be a black light pyrotechnics introduction of the contestants, bulls and contract performers, further adding to the excitement,” inserted Pack.

“Twelve of the bull riders with the highest score on their first bull will come back to compete in the championship round,” McQuad related.

The 57th annual Kansas State University Rodeo is scheduled February 22-24, with Friday and Saturday evening performances, and matinees Saturday and Sunday, also at Weber Arena.

“We host the rodeo to help pay for the new facilities, assist rodeo team members with travel expenses and for several community outreach activities,” Pack explained.

Dell Hall Rodeo Company will provide livestock for the more than 600 entries of 500 contestants representing the Central Plains Region of Kansas and Oklahoma in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association competition.

“There were four regional rodeos in the fall, and our rodeo will be the first of six this spring,” said Muller.

There are 12 NIRA card holders at K-State, who are expected to show Rodeo Purple Power.

“We have several top speed event contestants, and our rough stock riders are improving,” Coach Muller said.

“The rodeo club really has activities throughout the year,” McQuad pointed out.

“We had more than 280 teams entered in our annual team roping jackpot last fall,” Pack said. “The club helped with the Flint Hills Breadbasket food drive, packaging more than 2,000 meals for shipment to third world countries.”

Curriculum requirements prevent Pack from serving his second term as rodeo club president, but he’s enthusiastic in helping the organization.

“Rodeo will become an even more important sport at Kansas State University with the continued support from the community and the university,” Pack promised.