The Makings of a Rodeo Champion | Guest Post

In today’s WNFR guest post, Anne from On the Rodeo Road tells us what it takes to be a rodeo champion, and explains why winning isn’t necessarily everything. 

Life out on the rodeo road can involve very late nights and lots of driving. There are many ups and downs in rodeo, but the passion that pushes these athletes is what keeps them going. Motivation is sometimes hard to find, however, when you are gearing up for the National Finals Rodeo, you find it somewhere.

We spoke with NFR Steer Wrestler Billy Bugenig about the highs and lows of being on the road. “Rodeo can be an emotional roller coaster,” he said. “The thing about rodeo is you will never win every time. We all try to help each other and never get down. I try to take care of all of the things that I can control, and eliminate the variables. If something goes wrong that I feel was my fault, I fix it, either in the practice pen or in my mind.”

There will be plenty of rookies this year at the NFR and those first-time jitters I am sure will be in full effect, however NFR Veteran Barrel Racer Molly Powell has a little advice for the rookies. She said, “I always quote Clint Corey’s advice when a reporter asked him how he could compete with the young riders when he was over 40-years old! His reply is something that I replay in my head whenever I lack any confidence: ‘My belief in myself and confidence in the fact that if I do my best, I’ll be there (in the money).’  I think rookies get out there and sometimes try too hard.  Just relax and get some runs down.  3rd and 4th place checks add up fast, too!”

Mental toughness is something that each of these athletes must work on and keep in check as they continue on their journey toward the NFR. Two-time World Champion Header Matt Sherwood said, “It is still a sport and still a game, so I try to have fun doing it. I’ve always roped because I love it. Now that it is my job, as well, I still try to have fun and not get caught up in how much each steer could be worth or how important each steer is to my livelihood.”

Many of these amazing athletes try very hard to make the NFR every year, and not making it can be devastating after hauling all year and leaving your heart in the arena. NFR Veteran Brenda Mays said, “Finally reaching the goal of making the finals, having gone thru trials and finally making it. Coming close in 2006 was heart breaking, but when I made it in 2007 it was worth the wait, it made it really special.”

Tana Poppino who pushed hard all year to head to the Thomas and Mack came up short this year. She is an amazing lady who always tries to look on the positive side. “I have to say that I was disappointed for awhile,” she said, “but let’s put it in perspective, it’s just a rodeo. There are a lot more things in life more important like friends and family.”

On The Rodeo Road is an online publication dedicated to getting inside the mind of the rodeo athlete, and showing what makes this amazing competitor continue on. Their goal is to showcase the inspiration, motivation and the determination outside of the arena and what carries athletes mentally to each rodeo – where motivation meets determination and the story gets told. Be sure to visit throughout the 2011 National Finals Rodeo for more interviews with these great competitors.