Rodeo Newsletter - Fall 2020

Rodeo cover title

Letter from the Head Coach

Dean Andrew J. Thulin

The year 2020 has been a challenge, to say the least. From the economy to the education system, things seem to be turned upside down at every corner. Uncertainty, restrictions and political turmoil continue to shake our country, and we continue every day to plan and do the best we can to manage it all.

When things get tough, I refer back to the lessons I’ve learned from others, and I often share them with students when speaking candidly about issues they face. I feel strongly that every challenge can be looked at as either an excuse to keep from moving forward or as an opportunity to exhibit greatness. We can sit here and whine about these hurdles — no rodeos, a season cut short, a challenging academic environment — or look to the horizon and build our next steps.

I am reminded of a story my father tells often. He traveled with Bill Smith (Cody Bill) for the better part of his rodeo career. My father always bragged about how positive and lighthearted Bill was, no matter what. He relates that on one occasion, they showed up at a rodeo, and Bill had the bronc no one wanted: dirty, hard to ride, hard to win on. Even if you made a great ride on him, it was usually tough to be in the money. In a short long pen that had plenty of great horses that bronc riders would drool to get on, Bill had the outlier.

When the bronc riders found out their draw, they gave Bill their condolences for his bad luck. But as my father describes it, Bill set his saddle down, put both hands on his hips, and standing proudly, said, “Feel sorry for yourselves, boys. That sucker is going to have his best day, and I’m going to beat you all.”

Sure enough, he did! When Bill made that proclamation to his fellow riders, they had a sneaking suspicion he was going to be right. Bill looked at that situation against all odds and said, “I choose greatness over defeat.”

When we showed up to the rodeo in spring 2020, we didn’t pick our draw. When COVID-19 and chaos were next to our name on the day sheet, we weren’t overly excited. However, that doesn’t change our situation or our game plan. We still have to back into the box, nod our heads, and do the best we can with what we have. As we face this continuously developing hurdle, we will not turn back. We will not pull up or ride by. We will ride into position, like we know how to do, and we will take our shot. We will overcome and manage to thrive through this storm, keeping our heads up and our chests out, and telling everyone and every doubter that this is the way it is, and sympathies can be saved for others.

This fall we face virtual classes, a carefully managed practice atmosphere, an uncertain rodeo season and budget challenges, but we will move forward together as the Cal Poly Rodeo family. “Piece of cake,” Bill would probably say.

Stay tough, Cal Poly Rodeo, and keep smiling.





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