Rodeo team counts successes – and cash
By Marvin Tessneer
Aug 30, 2004, 12:01 am

Citing the recent successes of the New Mexico State Aggie rodeo team, Frank DuBois believes that he has been vindicated — his campaign to obtain rodeo athlete scholarships was right on target.
DuBois, a former New Mexico Department of Agriculture director, used to compete as a header roper in team steer roping. Multiple sclerosis forced him to coil his lariat, but the rodeo spirit was strong and he believed that he could participate in other ways.

“I ran my last steer in May of 1998,” he said. “I’d been one of those who were criticizing the university for not providing scholarships and support for rodeo athletes. After about a year after I ran my last steer, I decided to do something about it instead of just complaining. I did my first fund drive in the fall of 2000.”

And DuBois’ idea caught on.

“The next year I was able to give four scholarships,” he said. “The following year I had 14 scholarships, and last year I had 31. The scholarships vary in amounts to defray the costs of student tuition fees, based on rodeo talent, number of events the student competes in and grade-point average.”

And the scholarship support made the Aggie rodeo athletes better competitors. The year before the scholarships started, the Aggies had one student who qualified for the Collegiate National Final Rodeo in Casper , Wyo.

“The first year of scholarships we had six rodeo athletes qualify for the CNFR,” DuBois said. “Last year, we had 10 who qualified for the finals.”

During the past two school years, the Aggie rodeo athletes won the Men’s Team and Women’s Team Championships. And Clay Snure won the All-Around Cowboy championship and Mandy Sproul took the All-Around Cowgirl title. And during the past three years, DuBois said, Aggie rodeo athletes placed among the top five nationally in their events: Jarret Corn, fifth in calf roping; Leah Stevens, fifth in break-away roping; and Snure, third in calf roping.

Buddy Robinson, who was in the Aggie program when DuBois started the scholarship program, said he was pleased to see the program grow. He competed in calf and team roping and steer wrestling and received about $500 a semester in scholarship money while he was eligible to compete.

“It’s good for rodeo students who want go to NMSU, it gives them an opportunity to get a better education than in junior colleges that recruit rodeo students,” Robinson said. “With the scholarships, rodeo coach Jim Dewey Brown can go out and recruit rodeo kids, and he’s doing a great job. Frank and Jim have really turned the program around.”
Erin Thomas, a team roping heeler, also received some scholarship aid.

“I think it’s a great program because it promotes rodeo and academics,” Thomas said. “(DuBois) has taken the program and built it up from eight members to about 40.”
Rachel VanCleve, who runs the barrels and ropes goats, also gave DuBois credit for the rodeo growth.

“Frank has done an excellent job in improving the rodeo program by bringing in more money and coach Jim Dewey Brown,” she said. “I think the program is better than it ever has been before because of Frank.”

Another barrels runner, Audrey Baeza, said he has seen the improvement. “Without the funds and coach Brown we couldn’t have expanded the rodeo program,” Baeza said. “Frank helped us get new stalls and a bucking arena for the rough stock.”

DuBois also is promoting his ‘support a rodeo student athlete’ plan that gives donors the chance to name a scholarship after their businesses, in their own name, a memorial for an individual or a service club.

Donors can name their scholarship by paying $2,500 annually or pledging $50,000 over a period of time.

Hotch and Carolyn Manning had a scholarship named after their family by contributing $2,500 annually.

“Frank has been the driving force behind establishing this much-needed program to increase assistance with the NMSU rodeo program,” Manning, a Citizens Bank officer, said. “These student athletes have pretty much been on their own for more than 60 years, and without his tenacity and dedication to the sport none of this could have happened.”
DuBois’ efforts are far-reaching. Last May, Pete Leach of Berlin , Wis. , pledged a $50,000 scholarship for the Pete and Lucy Leach Rodeo Scholarship. Leach is a 1950 NMSU graduate with a degree in range animal husbandry. He keeps in touch with NMSU, and he said he read about the DuBois scholarship last fall in the Aggie “Panorama.”

He said that while he was attending NMSU, although he did not rodeo, he helped organize the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

“The rodeo students didn’t get any help from the university,” Leach said. “They had to build their own roping arena.” Leach spends the winters in Sedona , Ariz. , he said.

“When I read that article about what Frank was doing, I had to go to the university after I left Sedona and visit with him. And I told him that I wanted to help.” The Caballo Eagles Club showed what service clubs can do by donating $2,500 the past three years, club member Rick Taylor said.

“We have a lot of older cowboy members who never had a chance for a scholarship, and they like to support this type of program,” Taylor said. “The college rodeo kids in the past haven’t seen the same kind of support that college football and basketball players have had. And they wanted to help.”

People who want to donate can reach DuBois at rodeo@nmda.nmsu.edu.
“It takes three things for success in college rodeo,” DuBois said. “Scholarships, a good coach and practice stock. And now NMSU has all three.”

Marvin Tessneer can be reached at mtessneer@lcsun-news.com

Copyright © 2004 Las Cruces Sun-News, a Gannett Co., Inc. newspaper.
Use of this site signifies that you agree to ourTerms of Service
(updated 12/19/2002).