Former K-State Rodeo Bull Rider Returning To Alma Mater To Share Championship Skills

“Never give up.”

That’s this bull rider’s philosophy that paid off.

In classic western movies, the good guy would save the girl, get the bad guy and ride off into the sunset. Real life usually doesn’t go like that. But, for Dave Samsel, it did.

Champion bull rider Dave Samsel, a Waterville, Kansas, native will conduct the K-State Rodeo Club Bull Riding School, February 12-13, at Manhattan.
Champion bull rider Dave Samsel, a Waterville, Kansas, native will conduct the K-State Rodeo Club Bull Riding School, February 12-13, at Manhattan.

After 20 years in competitive bull riding, Samsel rode off victorious into the sunset with his only career world championship, the 2014 Pro Rough Stock Bull Riding World Title.

The Waterville, Kansas, native now of Haslet, Texas, is coming back to his alma mater, Kansas State University, Manhattan, to conduct the K-State Rodeo Club Bull Riding School, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at Weber Arena, proudly announced Casy Winn, first year rodeo club advisor and coach of the K-State Rodeo Team.

“We’re really happy to have who some call “Super Dave” come to K-State to share the techniques and keys to success that he has used to win more than a million dollars at the highest levels of bull riding,” Winn said.

Interest in the K-State Bull Riding School has been high, according to Winn, a former champion bull rider in-his-own-right, and father of two up-and-coming bull riding sons.

K-State hasn’t had much strength in the bull riding event at National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association events for some time, but there is more interest now, and Coach Winn is optimistic for the future.

“We have some practice bulls here at K-State, and there are a couple of college cowboys who’ve been getting some experience on them. So, those rodeo team members plan to compete in bull riding on the Central Plain Region college circuit this spring, which will kick off right here at Manhattan, on February 19-20-21,” Winn said.

The college bull riders will also be in attendance at this weekend’s rodeo school, starting Friday evening, Feb. 12, at 5 o’clock, with classroom sessions, and “some experience on the drop barrel,” according to Winn.

Saturday’s schooling moves into full force with students getting on live buckers. “We have some big steers, a couple cows, our practice bulls, and a few rodeo bulls are being brought up from Fort Scott in order for the students to get the feel of different levels of riding,” Winn said.

There’s still time to enrol in the bull riding school classes by contacting Winn at 435-681-0201, or email

“World champion, wow,” Samsel said as he exhaled with a smile after the final four rounds of the 2014 PRS World Finals in Rapid City, South Dakota

. “Twenty years in the making. There are guys who come here and win the first time. It took me 20 years. I’m going to end up appreciating it a lot more,” Samsel insisted

A self-taught bull rider from Waterville, Kansas, Samsel began his career in 1994, at the age of 23, after watching videos of legendary rider Tuff Hedeman.

It was a career that saw Samsel qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, the Championships Bull Riding World Finals and finish in the top 20 of the Professional Bull Riders four times. But, he had never won a world title.

After spending a year-and-a-half in retirement, Samsel was convinced by fellow bull rider Spud Whitman to return to competitive bull riding in 2014, with the Professional Rough Stock events.

. The then 43-year-old established Pro Rough Stock records as the tour’s first ever four-time season winner, and oldest champion.

During the World Finals, Samsel took the season lead after qualifying on Flying V’s previously unridden Magician in the opening round. “I guess he was unridden, because I never had him before,” Samsel grinned.

Samsel promised he’d stay involved in rodeo, judging, TV commentating, hosting events, and teaching bull riding. Samsel is doing that at his alma mater this weekend.

When he came to K-State, the only cowboys on campus were on the rodeo team. Samsel started hanging out with them, and they convinced him to join the team.

Samsel always remembered and followed Tuff Hedeman’s motto. “Stay on, it pays better.”

Insisting he wasn’t born with exceptional skills, Samsel said, “I continued working with sheer determination to ride bulls and not give up.”

Samsel advised those who want to become bull riders, or successful in any endeavor: “Set a task or a goal for yourself every day, and achieve it. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Reaching goals leads to success, and then confidence.”

Dave Samsel and professional rodeo announcer Justin McKee of Edna, Kansas, were inaugural inductees into the Kansas State Rodeo Hall of Fame.

“Come to K-State this weekend to learn the sport of bull riding from one of our own and one of the best,” Winn encouraged.