By Andrea Prise, Professor, Bakersfield College
Have you heard the exciting news? This year, Bakersfield College has started a Rodeo Club that is competing in the West Coast Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). As a new member of the NIRA, Bakersfield College is able to offer their students more ways to participate in the farm and ranch lifestyle that helped build our great community.
Bakersfield and the surrounding areas hold a rich history in cowboy and rodeo culture. The first official Bakersfield Rodeo was held during the Bakersfield Homecoming Week in April 1914 and drew in crowds and competitors from around the country including cowboy poet and competitor “Skeeter Bill” Robbins and National Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee bronc rider Dorothy Morrell. Ranching families that settled the area still run cattle on the hillsides and mountain tops that surround Bakersfield.
While the city of Bakersfield continues to grow, the small-town culture has remained strong. From the mountain communities of Kernville, Tehachapi, Frazier Park and Glenville, to the flat lands of Mojave, Lost Hills, Maricopa and Delano, the usual “six degrees of separation” becomes a one to two degree when cattle or horses are involved. It is common to meet someone for the first time at a rodeo or horse show one week and see them again with a mutual friend the next. It is hardly a surprise anymore because “It’s Bakersfield!”
With such a strong background in Western Heritage, it is only natural that Bakersfield College should provide students the opportunity to participate in college rodeo while continuing their college education in their hometown. Adding another college to the NIRA helps keep our Bakersfield ranching families involved in our community while allowing students who may not have the Western background the opportunity to learn more about rodeo and the cowboy way of life.
The NIRA has been an organization since 1948 and has grown from the founding 13 member schools to 137 member schools and universities with over 3,500 students competing in over 100 rodeos a year. Bakersfield College is proud to be part of the growing number of students and members for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This year, Bakersfield College has traveled to rodeos hosted by Feather River College in Quincy, Lassen College in Susanville, Fresno State in Clovis, West Hills College in Coalinga, Cuesta College and Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, and will be traveling to compete at the South Pointe Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas rodeo.
College students from 18-24 years of age with a high school diploma or GED that are currently enrolled in at least 12 units of college classes per semester can compete in 10 different events. The men’s events consist of Steer Wrestling, Tie Down Roping, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, and Bull Riding. The women’s events are Barrel Racing, Team Roping, Breakaway Roping, and Goat Tying. Students can enter once in any event and enter for the All-Around by competing in all men’s or women’s events. A full team consists of 14 individuals competing in one or more event.
Bakersfield College hopes to grow its Rodeo Club in the coming years and has already received great feedback and support from the community. If you would like more information about the Rodeo Club, visit the Club’s Facebook page “Rodeo Club at Bakersfield College” or the Instagram page at “bcrodeoteam.” You may also contact the head coach, Andrea Prise, through email at Andrea.Prise@BakersfieldCollege.edu. The Rodeo Club is currently recruiting new members for the 2022-2023 school year and welcomes sponsorships and donations for entry fees, travel costs, practices and other operational costs.
Our final rodeo of the season will be May 14-15th at the South Pointe Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. While our first season may be ending, our excitement to compete as Bakersfield College in College Rodeo is just getting started. We can’t wait to see what our Renegades will do this year and years to come! Go Renegades Rodeo!