Rodeo club gives cowboys 8 seconds of fame

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
GVSU student and member of the Grand Valley Rodeo Club Dan Morse

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter GVSU student and member of the Grand Valley Rodeo Club Dan Morse

Brady Fredericksen

With a campus surrounded by farmland, it would only make sense for Grand Valley State University to have some on-campus recognition of its farming community. While the university may not have a farming club, it does have a club rodeo team.

The team, which practices every Monday at Silver Dollar Ranch in Wayland, Mich., is actually a duo of senior Daniel Morse and sophomore Adam Smith. They have been riding together since meeting at Campus Life Night last year.

“I started it myself in 2009 and had some friends interested,” said Morse, who is a secondary education major. “None of them worked out as full-time riders. My goal was to start a club that gave people the opportunity to be a cowboy, but I’m not going to tell them to just go get on top of this 2,000 pound animal.”

For a club with only two full-time members, the duo travels all around Michigan and Ohio bull riding in different rodeos. Run entirely by Morse himself, the guys look to not only have fun but also to finish at the top of the leader board.

“In the rodeo, you’re playing for pride and money,” Morse said. “If you take first place, you can bank between $500 and $600 dollars, and while Adam and I are teammates, we’re playing against each other as much as we are as a team.”

The danger involved with the club is one of the main reasons why it has had mixed results when it comes to attracting new members. Obvious dangers such as being trampled by a 2,000-pound bull are key factors in scaring away potential riders.

“There’s an eight-second window where you really decide if you want to be in a rodeo,” Morse said. “When you get stepped on or bucked off, you decide right there if you love it or hate it.”

But a relative lack of interest has not slowed Morse and Smith from enjoying their “cowboy” lifestyles. Outside of friend and unofficial nurse Stephanie Wright, the team usually brings two or three people when traveling to rodeos. Still, the guys enjoy riding.

“The adrenaline rush is the best,” said Smith, a mechanical engineering major. “Some people do sky diving to get that, but the one you get from eight seconds on that bull is awesome.”

To top it off, bull riding is not the only thing these GVSU cowboys participate in. The duo also compete in steer wrestling, an event where a small male cow is released into a ring and the wrestlers have 45 seconds to corral the animal.

“We usually get together eight to 10 guys, and we all throw in $100 to go play,” Morse said. “I’ll always remember the time Adam tried to football tackle one by the neck and he got dragged around the ring for about 45 seconds.”

While the dangers can be a deterrent, the camaraderie and excitement from being a part of the team has proven to be a reason to look into the club.

“The work we do as a team at the practice pen is fun,” Smith said. “Being involved with the rodeo can give someone confidence because they’re doing something they never thought they would be able to accomplish.”

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