Rodeo Coach enjoys dual role in arena

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

The Mesalands Community College Intercollegiate Rodeo Team has high hopes as it enters its second season in the Grand Canyon region competition under the direction of rodeo coach C.J. Aragon.

Now, the team is competing in more home state events, six rodeos in new Mexico and four in Arizona as part of the Grand Canyon region. Before, they competed in the Southwest region with nine rodeos in Texas and one in New Mexico, said Aragon, who became coach in summer 2007.

“Competing in more rodeos in New Mexico will help in raising awareness of the college’s team,” Aragon said.

And last year, the team received $32,000 from the Governor’s Rodeo Council which also will raise awareness, Aragon said. “That money can be used to offer students a scholarship which will help to keep athletes in New Mexico. We also used part of the funding to help buy a bucking machine and additional equipment needed by the program.”

The team’s next rodeo is Feb. 23-24 at the Cochise College Rodeo at Fort Hauchuca, Ariz.

Aragon began competing in high school and has won many state, national and international honors. He is a top competitor in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Turquoise Circuit and competes as a steer wrestler and roper.

Competition is also a family affair. For the past two years, he and his wife, Tiffany, have been members of Team USA competing in international events.
How does Aragon manage the roles of coach and competitor? Here’s what he had to say:

Question: What’s influenced you to coach?
Answer: I was teaching steer wrestling classes at my home in Belen and had produced five of the last six state champions. In last four years, three of the four national qualifiers have been my students, so coaching seemed like a natural fit.

Is it hard to teach and compete?
No. I think it helps that the students can see that I can still go out and be competitive. Having the resources from years of competing and people that I have known helps in teaching my courses.

What has been the hardest part of becoming an instructor and coach?
Paperwork. I’ve always done everything on my own and now I am learning the proper channels to make sure everything is done correctly.

Are there any advantages to a two-year program vs a four-year program?
Starting at a four-year program might be harder for the athlete because they are competing against juniors and seniors. Here they gain experience and when they transfer to a four-year institution they are better trained to compete.

What is the first thing you tell a student?
Take care of classroom first. One of the first things I noticed was there were a lot of players that could not compete due to ineligibility. Our priority now and in the future will be the students keeping up their grades.

What is your advice before a competition?
When you go to an event be ready to take care of business and be competitive, don’t just show up for the party

Are you seeing any changes in the sport?
I have had the opportunity to be around people that have been in rodeo most of their life. In the past, if you had talent you could pave your own way. Nowadays, it is so competitive with the specialization of events that the top field is constantly changing.

Do you ever catch yourself disciplining a student for something that you have done in the past?
One of my big things is when they miss classes they have to pull weeds at the arena. When I was in college I missed classes and I was held accountable.

Have you been injured while competing?
I had a right knee rebuilt, four broken ribs, punctured lung, collapsed lung, broken arm, all from one event in 1995.

What is your total purse from rodeo?
$100,000 by now.

Why do what you do?
I love it and it is fun.

l 1993 Idaho High School State Champion Team Roper with Jake Aragon
l 1993 Idaho Cowboys Association Rookie of the Year Team Roper and Steer Wrestler
l 1995 Idaho Cowboys Association Reserve Champion Steer Wrestler
l 1998 NIRA Grand Canyon Reserve Champion Steer Wrestler
l 1998 NIRA Reserve National Champion Steer Wrestler
l 2006 New Mexico Rodeo Association Champion Steer Wrestler
l 2006 Turquoise Circuit Finals Average Champion Steer Wrestling
l 2006 Dodge National Circuit Finals Qualifier
l 2006 -2007 Team USA Member in the Sydney Royal International Rodeo in Sydney, Australia
l 2007 PRCA Turquoise Circuit Finals third in year-end standings Steer Wrestler