By Katie Rice
Senior, agricultural communication major
Cal Poly Rodeo is considered to be “The Notre Dame of college rodeo.” Over the years the program has obtained more national titles than any other program in the nation. In 1939, the Cal Poly Rodeo program held the first intercollegiate rodeo in Victorville, California. In 1940, the first ever Cal Poly Rodeo was held with 4,000 spectators in attendance. Fast-forward to this past weekend, and the 77th annual Poly Royal Rodeo was held in the Alex G. Spanos Stadium. This event made a statement as the biggest college rodeo in history. The rodeo had a sold out crowd of over 11,000 people.
I became a part of the rodeo team the same time as our head coach, Ben Londo, took over the program. I witnessed this program grow, flourish, and gain support and attraction while under his guidance.
During his first year, there were a mere 18 students on the team. Today, our program is composed of around 65 students. A new pipe arena has been built, new pipe stalls implemented, ground has recently been broken on a livestock and hay barn, and the Milano Family endowment of $1 million has allowed for increased student scholarship support among many other things.
On the Saturday night of the Cal Poly Rodeo, I walked into the stadium with thousands of people surrounding the arena. It was in that moment I was able to look around, and reflect not only on the irreplaceable education Cal Poly has provided me with, but as well as the lessons and experiences of a lifetime I would have never gained without the competition, responsibilities, teammates and coach of this program.
Fellow senior and teammate AnnieRose Seifert explained, “The rodeo program is like having a second family. We take care of each other and cheer each other on both in and out of the arena.” While having 65 other students wanting you to succeed as badly as they want to themselves, our coach Ben and his wife, Becci, are always there to lend a helping hand as well.
Whether it is in the arena, the classroom, or life in general, coach Ben and Becci are there to pick us up when we fall down. They have displayed to all of us on the rodeo team what it means to be a loving and supportive family, which is one of the most important values we could take away from our four years at Cal Poly. These people and experiences are lessons, myself and my fellow teammates, will all carry with us for a lifetime as we leave Cal Poly this June. The Cal Poly Rodeo program is so much more than just a rodeo program.