College Rodeo — A Stepping Stone to the Pros

Clay Berry during her barrel run at the NMSU spring college rodeo. (Photo by Phillip Kitts)

By Phillip Kitts 

The spring months are upon us, which means the rodeo road is going to become a very busy place. The big paying rodeos of the winter such as Denver, Austin and San Antonio have come and gone and many would think that the standings for the year would be set in stone.

The fact is this is far from the truth. Over the next six months, rodeo competitors will hit the highways of America in every attempt to earn enough money and attempt to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

This is not only true for the professional athletes but also applies to a large group of college athletes who are chasing gold buckles of their own. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) is the college rodeo version of the NCAA.

Numerous schools around America have small to large rodeo teams that are assigned to regions within the NIRA. The NIRA is broken up in to 11 regions around the United States. Each region features colleges that travel within their region and compete in rodeos.

The regions are as follows:
Big Sky Region- Montana and parts of Wyoming
Central Plains- Kansas and Oklahoma
Central Rocky Mountain- Parts of Nebraska, parts of Colorado, and other parts of Wyoming
Grand Canyon- Arizona and New Mexico
Great Plains- Wisconsin, parts of Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota
Northwest- Oregon and Washington
Ozark- Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee
Rocky Mountain- Utah, Idaho, and parts of Colorado
Southern- Part of Texas
Southwest- The remainder of Texas and one New Mexico school
West Coast- California and Nevada

To read more pick up a copy of the May 2018 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.