When most people think of college athletics, their thoughts usually turn to such sports as football or basketball. However, at many colleges across the United States sports such as bull riding take center stage.
In fact, many schools offer athletic scholarships for bull riding just as others do for more conventional sports. The types of schools participating in bull riding vary, with both community colleges and four-year universities boasting some of the top teams and riders. For cowboys and cowgirls who want to spend their college years riding the biggest bulls while earning a degree, there are many opportunities to do so.
The Top Bull-Riding Schools
The best college programs for amateur bull riding span the country, though most are located in the western half of the United States. While many schools compete, there are 10 schools that have become powerhouses when it comes to amateur bull riding. Among the best of the best are:
Of all these schools, Sam Houston State has won the most national championships, having won eleven over a thirty-year span. Most schools have both men’s and women’s bull-riding teams, with schools such as Tarleton State boasting both men’s and women’s teams being ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The Stars of the Show
While the emphasis during competitions focuses mostly on teams, individual titles are also up for grabs. Some of the best-known competitors come from tiny Mesalands Community College in Texas and include female bull rider Macy Fuller and her male counterpart Mike McGinn, the nation’s top male bull-riding recruit out of high school. Other top competitors include:
As the sport gains in popularity, schools are finding it much easier to locate students who want to earn a degree while also spending time in the corral after class trying to figure out how to stay on the biggest bull there.
College National Finals Rodeo
Called the “Rose Bowl” of college rodeo, the College National Finals Rodeo is the most prestigious title any rider can win in amateur bull riding. Some of the winners in the bull riding competition over the years include:
- Justin French–Central Arizona College
- Dustin Elliott–Chadron State College
- Matt Peak–Dodge City Community College
So while students at many colleges will be taking leisurely strolls around campus, students with dreams of becoming professional bull riders will be found wearing their faded blue jeans, cowboy boots and hats around the corral, hoping to figure out the right techniques to become world champions.