Adapting to change
Change is inevitable and that’s exactly what the Laramie County Community College (LCCC) rodeo team is experiencing. Second year coach Beau Clark is trying to recruit and build a team that has consistent values. This spring, Beau will be finishing up his second year of coaching and is looking for new ways to continue to build this program.
“Over the last year we’ve grown and are still in the process of changing the idea of LCCC rodeo,” Beau said. “Our recruiting process has completely changed and has allowed us to go far and wide in finding quality students to add to our team.”
The number of out of state students coming to the LCCC rodeo team is increasing every year. This year, team members are from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and even Canada.
“I just try to ask my current kids who they know from back home to get an idea of who I should be recruiting for the following year,” Beau said. “I get those kids who have consistently worked hard both in the classroom as well as in the arena and find those similar to them.”
Those values that Clark strives to portray include honesty, integrity, resilience and grit. Beau looks at each day as an opportunity to grow these values as an individual as well as guide and mentor his student athletes.
Austin Hurlburt and Georgie Lage are new recruits this year from Nebraska who have been competing since they were both very young. Austin competes in the tie down roping, steer wrestling and team roping while Georgie competes in team roping and breakaway roping.
“I like the calf roping the best because there’s just nothing like clicking with a good calf horse,” Austin said. “Just that slide stop and then they go to working rope. There’s just nothing quite like it.”
Austin Hurlburt competes in the calf roping. Photo courtesy of Annette Palmer.
While there are many reasons the two both said they chose LCCC to further their education, there were two that the two students were adamant about.
“This is a college rodeo kid’s dream place because of the number of cattle we get to rope every day,” Georgie said. “We didn’t have this opportunity back home and that plus the incredible coaching staff is why I came here.”
While getting to rope as much as possible under a decorated coaching staff was great, the two both know that it takes more than that to have a great program.
Lisa Murphy of the LCCC Foundation has been a key part in supporting LCCC rodeo. As a former Miss Rodeo Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days Board of Director and Cheyenne native, Lisa loves the sport of rodeo as well as the community surrounding her.
Lisa has been involved with the rodeo team since 2007 and has been a big part in fundraising efforts to help with the production of the Shawn Duby Memorial rodeo hosted at LCCC each year as well as the Shawn Duby Memorial Scholarship fund.
“We started out with just getting chute gate sponsors which made us about $20,000 each year,” Lisa said. “It takes about $12,000 to put on the rodeo and the remainder of that money we put towards the scholarship fund.”
When Lisa started helping with the rodeo team, they had about $30,000 in the scholarship fund. The fund now has somewhere around $300,000 and their ultimate goal is to get that amount up to $1 million.
Over the last two years, the team has really put forth an incredible effort to help fundraise. In addition to hosting the event and providing most of the auction items, the team also sells calendars to people in the community as well as local businesses. The calendars feature every student on the team and highlight 12 different members in their respective events for each month.
“It was truly incredible when we presented the team with the idea of Lariats-n-Lace because they all took a stand and offered to help gather all of the auction items,” Lisa said. “I think that because the items are donated by the students, it shows the community just how hard they are willing to work and gives them more incentive to help the team.”
Student athletes Caydee Johnson and Georgie Lage pose with coach Beau Clark at the Lariats-n-Lace event. Photo courtesy of Georgie Lage.
At this year’s Lariats-n-Lace event, Beau stressed the importance of hard work in both the arena and the classroom and added that “the overall GPA for the team was above a 3.0 and just for the women’s team was above a 3.5.”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my two years here if it wasn’t for Lisa,” Beau Said. “She has been so helpful and she just knows all the right people to include that will come to our event and help support these kids.”
Due to an equine virus, the Shawn Duby Memorial Rodeo scheduled for last fall has now been moved and will be hosted in Cheyenne March 2-4. The team looks forward to putting on the event and hosting many individuals who have been there to support them throughout this rodeo season.