By Lariena Nokes
The first HCC Rodeo team is pictured in this 1979 photo, with club sponsor Steve Sears at far left,  front row.  Sears said the club members participated in a variety of  rough stock and riding events at rodeos around the region.
Rodeo Club has a long, proud history here at the Hutchinson Community College — and now it’s on the comeback trail.

From 1979 to 1985, Steve Sears was the faculty sponsor for the Rodeo Club and the Rodeo Team.

At that time it was the “Rodeo and 4H Club.” The club had a reputation on campus for being a great social group and an effective fundraiser.

The Rodeo Team was competitive in all events. The men’s team was active in rough stock events including bull-riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, and team- roping. The women’s events were barrel racing — and later breakaway roping.

“There were seven rodeos in the fall and eight rodeos in the spring,” Sears said. “Those 15 events kept us busy every year. The Rodeo Team would leave Friday at noon and not get back to Hutchinson until late Sunday night.”

Sears fondly remembered all of the Rodeo Club and Rodeo Team students as being dedicated, straight-A scholars.

You could pick out the calf-ropers because they wore jeans pressed with even creases, in contrast to the bull-riders who were boisterous, with a passion for rodeo hidden by the fact that they were a bit more casual.

Those golden days of college rodeo ended in 1985 when available funding was shifted to the livestock-judging team —and the Rodeo Club was discontinued.

With no Rodeo Club and no rodeo team here at HCC for years, some agriculture students with the drive and talent to compete in rodeo picked other colleges and universities so that they could further develop their skills and compete.

Now efforts are being made to bring back the rodeo team, according to Karen Baehler, faculty sponsor for the group.

“Morgan and Amanda expressed an interest in co-founding a rodeo club this year and a competitive rodeo team by next year,” Baehler said.

“I love rodeo. I put myself through college barrel racing, so I offered to be their faculty sponsor,” she said.

Co-founders Amanda Troyer, Moundridge, and Morgan Estep, Hutchinson, worked together with Baehler and community sponsor Deoan Broce to reestablish the club.

The first meeting of the newly reactivated Rodeo Club, on Jan. 27, featured barbeque sandwiches, fellowship and information about the group’s goals.

With 21 students and five community members in attendance, the meeting was informative.

Some spoke about their horses. Others talked about rodeo events in which they have competed.

Several shared a history of “mutton-busting,” telling about times when they were children in a sport where kids with helmets climb onto sheep in bucking chutes and are let into an arena, for hard-running, bumpy rides.

The next meeting of the Rodeo Club will be Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m., in Room 12 of the Parker Student Union.

The agenda includes election of officers and planning for fund-raisers.

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