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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Giddy up

For those who do it, rodeo is more than competition — it’s a way of life.

For many of the Arizona Rodeo Club members, that life extends beyond the saddle. It starts with family.

In existence since 1939, the club is the oldest intercollegiate rodeo club in the country. Many of its current members have been rodeoing for most of their lives.

Club president Jacob Mayfield, an agribusiness economics and management senior, is one member who didn’t just grow up with the rodeo, but was born into it.

“”My grandpa and dad always roped. My mom and my two sisters rope, so I grew up into it,”” Mayfield said. “”Since I could walk, I’ve been riding horses, and as soon as I could swing a rope, I started roping.

“”In high school our whole family would go to the rodeos. My sister would run barrels, and I would team and calf rope. We’ve always done it as a family.””

Second-year club member Dru Palmer, an agriculture economics and management junior, also grew up with a rodeo family.

“”It’s something I’ve done my entire life with my family,”” he said. “”You meet great people and compete in something you love to do.””

One staple of the club has been head coach John Marchello. Since 1967, Marchello has had the pleasure of coaching multiple generations of families while at Arizona.

“”I got grandkids (in the club) of parents who rodeoed with me before,”” Marchello said. “”That’s a satisfaction.””

Mayfield’s grandparents were not part of the club, but his parents were. Currently, his younger sister Whitney is also a member of the club.

“”We go to the rodeos together, and that makes it fun,”” Mayfield said.

A week after the conclusion of the 85th annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, the club staged its 71st intercollegiate rodeo at the Pima County Fairgrounds over the weekend. One-hundred sixty six contestants competed in the oldest intercollegiate rodeo in the world.

The club participates in 10 rodeos each year, five in both the fall and spring. The top three competitors from each event, broken down by male and female categories, advance to the national college finals in Casper, Wyo., in June.

The rodeo club competes in the Grand Canyon Region as part of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. And though membership has dwindled in recent years, the club’s new practice facility, which opened last year, could help increase membership.

“”Hopefully, with this new arena we can get these community college kids into our university and build up our team again,”” said Mayfield, who came up with the idea of the arena.

“”I had the idea and (coach) helped me push it through,”” he added. “”He actually made it happen.””

Marchello worked the phones, contacting former rodeo contestants and supporters of collegiate rodeo. With further help from club members, $30,000 was raised. The new facility has sparked an interest from students who plan to rodeo while pursuing their education.

“”We have a lot of interest from students coming in now,”” Marchello said. “”We should have more incoming freshman and transfer students from community colleges.””

A dedication for the new practice facility is forthcoming in the fall.

“”It’s (a) great practice arena,”” Palmer said. “”It’s great to push each other in practice (and then) compete and cheer for each other in competition.””

As much as club members enjoy the competition of rodeo, academics come first.

“”We stress academics before we stress rodeo,”” Marchello said. “”The students we get here are academically inclined. Their first goal is to get a good education and their second is to rodeo. We like that position.””

For Mayfield and Palmer, academics were the main influence in their coming to the UA.

“”Academically, the U of A (was) better for me,”” Mayfield said. “”It’s a little tougher and had more of the programs I wanted.””

For Palmer, rodeo was only a bonus.

“”I came here for academics, and part of my decision (was knowing) they did have a rodeo team here.””

Palmer described rodeo as “”a way of life,”” and for those who rodeo, the club couldn’t be any better.

“”(Members) get to meet a lot of people,”” Marchello said. “”They learn to handle pressure. (Rodeo helps) develop character as the kids move into their adult life.””

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