A group of Rodeo Team alumni met current Rodeo Team members at the Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Facility equine center to present them with two pieces of equipment and a plaque to commemorate the donors to the program on Sept. 21.
The first piece of equipment presented to the Rodeo Team was a spurring board, which is used by both bareback and saddle bronc riders.
“The equipment that was donated today, is called a spurring board where the student athletes, bareback riders or saddle bronc riders, where they can learn to spur and how to make their lick,” David Gregory, Rodeo Team member from 1970 to 1972, said. “And it’s muscle memory, so the more you spur the better you get… It’s a dual thing, so bareback riders will do it because they have a knee jerking motion. I rode saddle broncs, and that was a spurring motion from the front of the point of the shoulders to the rear of the cantle. It’s called a lick.”
The second piece of equipment was a mechanical bucking machine.
“And now the other device is called a bucking machine,” Gregory said. “It’s good for bull riders, it’s good for bareback riders and saddle bronc riders. And so, we purchased a used machine; it has all the safety cushions, air cushions with it and it has safety devices, so it has automatic emergency shutoff. So the student athletes can use it, it’s not a toy. It’s used to work a certain motion, and you work it on a horse, turning out of a chute or a bull.”
Gregory said this equipment, along with another bucking machine donated a few years prior, is three pieces of equipment to help the rough stock riders develop their skills. He said the alumni plan to make more donations in the future.
“The next item [that’s] down on the shopping list is bucking horses,” Gregory said. “So, horses that normally just buck are utilized in rodeo. We have a couple of those already located, and we’re going to try to get them to donate. We’re trying to build our rough stock riders and our timed event, for men and women athletes.”
Destiney Williams, senior health science major from Paris, Texas, and president of the Rodeo Team, said just having the support sets SFA’s team apart from others.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “Just to see that we have the social support from alumni and people who used to rodeo means a lot to us because it’s really going to help us get down the road. That’s a great blessing because a lot of teams don’t have that support, and we do. And that’s what makes us a great team, that’s what makes SFA home.”
The alumni also spoke with the Rodeo Team about scholarship opportunities. Stony York, Rodeo Team member from 1971, said there are three available scholarships for Rodeo Team members.
“We started an alumni association quite a few years back,” York said. “Essentially, all of us get together, have a little reunion and start raising money to give us something for our Rodeo Club to actually have real team scholarships. We’ve seen that you can’t compete and get the competitors in here without being able to offer some scholarship money. Up to that point, scholarship money had been very small. When I was in college, you’d get a couple hundred bucks. We wanted to get it to where they got books, tuition, and so we developed three different scholarships.”
Two of the scholarships are named for former Rodeo Team members, but all three are memorial scholarships.
“There’s about $78 thousand we raised in scholarships between all three of those, and we still have that up there somewhere at SFA,” York said.
York said the gathering of Rodeo Team members, past and present, was refreshing and hopes to start doing events with Rodeo Team alumni more in the future.
“It’s just refreshing to see that it’s still alive,” York said. “Rodeo Club has been here since 1943, I think, so it’s a very old organization on campus. We’ve always been one of the biggest clubs on campus, and just to see a lot of the old timers here that are all old mostly ex-presidents of the Rodeo Club. And there’s many more of us. We are over 400 and something strong that is on my mailing list, where we would send out every year and do a big dance and a big team roping. We’d like to revive that, get it going again.”
Gregory said he was glad that he and his former teammates were able to give back to the Rodeo Team because he knew what it was like to be in their shoes.
“It’s giving back because most of us now are in our late-60s and 70 years-old, and we are financially more stable than the days that we didn’t have, and we have some extra funds that we can give back,” Gregory said. “It’s giving back to the people and trying to get to our community because we knew what it was like when Mr. Robinson, [another Rodeo Team alumnus] and I rode in that truck with just gas money.”
Head Rodeo Coach Rachel Clark said the team is grateful for the donations, as well as the support from team alumni.
“Our program is blessed to receive this donation from former SFA rodeo team coaches and members,” Clark said. “We are grateful for their support as we continue to reestablish our rodeo program on campus and in the region. Team members who compete in rough stock events will be able to utilize this equipment regularly to better prepare for upcoming competitions.”