By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Some Mesalands Community College students don’t stop with hitting the books. They also hit the dirt, the cattle and perhaps their horses’ hindquarters when they do a good job with the college’s rodeo team.
Comprised of 19 students and a new coach, this year’s Mesalands rodeo team is gearing up to get down and dirty with the best of them for the fall semester.
With four rodeos scheduled for the term and four-hour practice sessions four days a week, they will have ample opportunity.
New Coach Shawn Patrick, 25, may love the rodeo, but he is equally adamant about education.
“The hardest thing so far has been getting the kids to show up to class,” Patrick said. “I tell them no pass, no practice, no play. School’s first.”
Patrick’s education focus started with his own schooling, which included Sul Ross University, where he was
president of the Rodeo Club and assistant coach, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a bachelor’s of science in animal science.
He may be fairly new to coaching but Patrick is not new to the rodeo scene. An accomplished bull rider, roper, barrel
racer and cutting horse trainer, Patrick said he started his rodeo career at age 10 and has had a wagon train of victories to get him where he is today.
In addition to his experience at Sul Ross and his standing on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, he has roped home awards from the Boys Ranch High school Rodeo Team and earned Christian Cowboy of the Year honors.
Patrick has also had his share of hard experience, including a fall that smashed his skull.
“They had to reconstruct the whole left side of my face,” Patrick said. “I have five plates (in my head) and they rebuilt my eye socket.” Such an injury, however, barely even slowed him down.
“I was going again in two weeks,” Patrick said.
His team should perhaps be prepared to work just as diligently, and he’s already left an impression.
“He brings a different perspective to rodeo as a bull rider,” said rodeo team president Colt Vernon, 19, of Post, Texas.
As a second-year student, Vernon said as grueling as his studies in agri-business and constant rodeo practice may be, he would have it no other way.
“I’ve roped all my life, grew up on a ranch,” Vernon said, adding the rodeo is as great a place for instruction as the classroom. “It teaches you patience and how to get along with other people.”
As a team roper, Vernon said it’s imperative to support your teammates, even if they miss the calf they are attempting to rope. One of the best parts, he said, is the victory — not to mention the entertainment value.
“It’s fun,” Vernon said. “That’s what a rodeo is — to have fun and learn. You never stop learning in the rodeo.”
Mesalands rodeo team’s fall 2005 schedule
Sept. 22-24: Eastern New Mexico University in Portales
Sept. 20-Oct. 1: Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas
Oct. 6-8: Vernon College in Vernon, Texas
Oct. 20-22: Texas Tech University in Lubbock