By Madelaine Mills for PRCA Industry Outreach
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Spring Break Camp, hosted by Hidden Springs Youth Ranch and San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, took on an urban cowboy flair. Hosted just 10 minutes from the AT&T Center, the event allowed an opportunity for inner city children to have a hands-on experience with rodeo, while learning about “America’s first extreme sport.”
Hidden Springs Youth Ranch had nearly 50 attendees, ranging from 8-18 years-old, check in each day for the unique learning experience. In small groups, students could learn about each rodeo event. Bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and horsemanship, as well as bull fighting were all offered. An introduction to rodeo as a sport and lessons about our animal athletes were also provided.
Students not only learned about their chosen event, but experienced ground work drills that would build a foundation for a rodeo competitor.
Instructors included rodeo athletes and notables as listed below.
Saddle Bronc Rider, Nick LaDuke
Retired Five-time Wrangler World Champion Bullfighter, Rob Smetts
Retired WNFR Qualifier in the Bareback Riding, Bob Logue
Bareback Riders, Matt Crumpler and Scotty NeSmith
Rodeo Judge, Gary Case
Retired Bullrider, Mel Kimbro
Retired Steer Wrestler and current Arena Director, John Gwatney
Rodeo Secretary of the Year, Sandy Gwatney
Team Roper, Sage Rew
Barrel Racers, Hailey Kinsely and Kathy Usher
2018 NLBRA Princess and rodeo representative, Jentri Haivala
A couple special guests also attended the camp including World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, Jacobs Crawley and UFC fighter, Brendan O’Reilly. O’Reilly competed in youth rodeo through junior high and high school. After competing professionally as “The Badger” since 2009 in mixed martial arts, he is transitioning back into the sport of rodeo.
The urban based camp reached out to inner city children to instill an appreciation for the sport and lifestyle, as well as draw interest for future competitors. Many of today’s rodeo athletes did not grow up with a family involved in rodeo, agriculture, or the western lifestyle.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in the bareback riding, Mason Clements is a first-generation rodeo cowboy. He was raised competing in motocross racing but found an interest in his neighbors who team roped. After spending time with his neighbors, he went on to try multiple rodeo events, including steer wrestling and bull riding. Ultimately, Clements fell in love with the adrenaline rush and challenge of bareback riding.
Similarly, two-time World Champion Team Roping Heeler, Patrick Smith did not start roping until the age of 18 and was the first in his family to compete in rodeo. Smith had friends who were involved with rodeo and he began working riding horses for four-time world champion Allen Bach. After being introduced to rodeo legend, Tee Woolman, Smith began roping with him and his rodeo career took off.
“Rodeo does not have to be something your family did, or your community is active in,” said saddle bronc rider and camp instructor Nick LaDuke. “It is important for us to teach as many people as possible because you never know when the next ProRodeo athlete might come straight out of any major city in the World.”
The camp was a success thanks to the many rodeo instructors and volunteers who helped the days run smoothly. Students walked away with big smiles, rodeo knowledge and new-found skills to become the next rodeo stars. The Rodeo Camp Schedule can be found on www.prorodeo.com.