College rodeo to return to EWU
After some 20 years on hiatus Eastern Washington University will once again field a rodeo team.
EWU had a rodeo team in the early1990s, according to team spokesman Donaye Smith. “Actually it’s crazy, Gonzaga (University) had a rodeo team back then,” he said. “It sort of just died out.”
Under the auspices of Eastern’s Club Sports program, the team just recently got full approval according to Club Sports Director, Rick Scott.
“We did just get the okay to go ahead with our rodeo club,” Scott wrote in a recent email. “So we are going to start the process of getting our paperwork turned into the NIRA (National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association).”
The team got going primarily through the work of EWU student Marshall Peone, a saddle bronc rider who represented the school in an indirect way. “You can do it as an individual or as a team,” Smith explained.
Eastern will join fellow Big Sky Conference schools, Weber State, Southern Utah, Idaho State and Cal Poly, all who field teams. Central Washington and the University of Idaho field NIRA teams as does Walla Walla CC.
Peone got things tolling by posting some fliers around campus. “If you want to start up a rodeo team give me a call,” Peone’s info asked. “So I gave him a call and sat down and sort of figured it out.”
Peone, who recently got married, gave up the organizational torch to Smith.
Currently the team has about 15 members, Smith said. “That’s even before school started.” The team makes its debut Oct. 18-20 at Ontario, Ore. with a rodeo conducted by Treasure Valley Community College.
“My vision is that the people who had it back in the ‘90s, they were OK with it as a club,” Smith said. “I want to take it from clubs and organizations to athletics.”
Smith has big plans and ambitions for the club. “I want to make rodeo part of the school to where people can get scholarships for doing rodeo just like any other school like Blue Mountain Community College or Walla Walla Community College.”
Smith is a bull rider, and in fact was the 2013 Cheney Rodeo champion in the event. Of the current team there are two girls who are goat tiers and two that do breakaway roping,
“We have Marshall who’s a saddle bronc rider, another bull rider (Wyatt Wilkes) and we have a whole lot of barrel racers,” Smith said. “Those are the traditional college rodeo events.”
Smith had an unlikely beginning in rodeo. Born in Tacoma, he is from Kent, Wash., is 21 and an EWU senior where he’s double majoring in sociology and architecture.
He was drawn to rodeo as a youngster when he spent time on his grandfather’s ranch in Sequim, Wash. “He taught me how to train horses and was around the rodeo scene,” Smith said.
“It’s just one day, you get the urge when you’re around rodeo, country living, you say ‘hey, I’ve got to try it.’” Smith explained.
He rodeoed through his sophomore and junior years in high school, stopped and then picked it up again at age 19. Smith has won in excess of $4,000 so far on the Pro Rodeo circuit.
Further information on EWU’s rodeo team can be found on Facebook.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.