OGDEN — College basketball isn’t the only sport that goes completely mad in March.
Rodeo is pretty darn crazy this month, too.
“March is our rodeo month,” says Duncan Olsen, general manager of Golden Spike Event Center, in Ogden.
Olsen rattles off several rodeos that are held during the month in the Golden Spike Arena — including the Intermountain Icebreaker, the Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association March rodeo, the Weber State Rodeo, and the Spikers High School Rodeo.
“We really churn the rodeos out this time of year,” Olsen said. “And the nice thing about our place? You can’t rodeo in the mud and snow and frozen ground, but you can do it inside the Golden Spike Arena.”
This weekend, the Weber State Rodeo brings 11 colleges and universities from the Rocky Mountain Region to compete in events like bareback riding, breakaway roping, bull riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie down roping, and goat tying.
The annual event is hosted by the Weber State Rodeo Team, coached by Brad Hodson, of Hooper.
The rodeo team is considered a club at WSU, so Hodson’s coaching position is strictly volunteer. But he attended Weber State as a rodeoing student athlete and says his primary goal is to help develop the sport at WSU.
“I was on a full-ride scholarship at Weber and got a four-year sales degree, so I just want to give back and make sure these kids come to school,” Hodson said. “Their first interest is to get a degree and prepare for life, but also to enjoy some awesome experiences with rodeo.”
This weekend’s WSU Rodeo takes place Friday and Saturday evenings at the Golden Spike Event Center’s Golden Spike Arena, 1000 N. 1200 West. Friday’s rodeo begins at 7 p.m., Saturday’s event starts at 5 p.m.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. Ages 5 and younger are admitted free.
This will be the third of four rodeos for the WSU team this spring — they’ve been to Snow College’s rodeo in Salina, and the College of Southern Idaho’s rodeo in Twin Falls earlier this month. Then, after this weekend, they’ll travel to Colorado Mesa University’s rodeo in Grand Junction.
The top event winners and teams from the region will advance to Casper, Wyoming, in June for the College National Finals Rodeo.
The number and quality of rodeo athletes at WSU fluctuates from year to year, according to Hodson. Some years just naturally see fewer young cowboys and cowgirls growing up in the area, or more students leaving to pursue rodeo at out-of-state schools in places like Texas and Oklahoma.
If they’re among the elite competitors, rodeo athletes can receive full-ride scholarships, Hodson says. Otherwise, tuition waivers help defray the cost of schooling.
Although Hodson says they’re still building the program at Weber, the school’s rodeo club has done relatively well this year.
“This year our girls team has really stepped up — they’re sitting second in region and looking to take a full team to Casper in June,” he said. “We should also take the calf roping title as well.”
Hodson said Weber State University is one of the best schools around for some who wants to rodeo and get an education. And this weekend’s Weber State Rodeo will give spectators a chance to see the future stars of the sport.
“A lot of kids you’ll see performing at this rodeo, in years to come you’ll see them in Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo,” Hodson said.