NOTE: Two photo files suitable for print are available for download in the Olive folder on the page at http://bigcat.fhsu.edu/currentevents/news_photos.php/. One is action from the KPRA Finals Rodeo in Hays, Kan. and the other is of him accepting his award from Dwayne Panzer, KPRA president. Photos were taken by Kara Hackney, Ellis sophomore.
HAYS, Kan. -- One can say this cowboy has come a long way from practicing on a feed yard bucket calf just a few years ago.
In only his fourth year of riding bulls, Brody Olive, Ford sophomore, recently earned the title of Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Champion Bull Rider 2010. Olive, a new recruit to the Fort Hays State University rodeo team and a transfer from Dodge City Community College, achieved the feat by earning the most money this season at KPRA-sanctioned rodeos throughout the states of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Olive pocketed exactly $6,869.58 in winnings prior to the KPRA Finals in the last weekend of August, and although he didn’t win any more money at the finals, his lead of more than $1,700 ahead of second place still held. His first-place year-end finish resulted from winning six rodeos and placing second at four more in the 2010 season.
Arguably one of his most rewarding wins was at the McCracken Rodeo in July, where he pocketed more than $1,800.
Olive said winning the McCracken Rodeo has been a goal of his and his older brother's (Brett, a saddle bronc rider) ever since they started competing in KPRA rodeos. The McCracken Rodeo is a nine-time KPRA Rodeo of the Year. Its livestock, from McCloy Rodeo Company out of Morse, Texas, is known for being tough to ride--a quality the cowboys call "rank." McCracken awards a unique, handmade leather buckle to the winners of each event.
"We've been trying to get that buckle for the last three years, so that one felt good," Olive said. "We" means Brody and his brother Brett.
He got his start in bull riding when he was 13 by riding Bambi, a cow his dad brought home from the feed yard as a bucket calf a few years earlier.
"We just started riding her at the house,” Olive said. “I made my own little bucking chute for her, and I used to get on her by myself down there. She was about 4 to 6 years old, but she wasn't big. My parents made me ride her for two years before they ever let me get on a bull."
He also practiced on a bucking barrel that a family friend brought out to the farm. That friend rode bulls and showed Olive a few things to practice. Olive also rode horses bareback a lot, which worked the same muscles used to ride bulls.
The first time he ever sat on a bull's back was at the Dodge City Little Britches Rodeo when he was a sophomore in high school in 2005.
"I got one-jumped into a big old water hole," Olive said with a grin. "It had been raining all night and then some in the morning, and when we got on that afternoon, the arena was under water."
He practiced more on Bambi and the bucking barrel after that. He didn't get on another bull until 2007, when he competed again at the Little Britches Rodeo.
And this time he made the whistle.
"The bull ran off, and I rode it," said Olive. "It was only 63 points or so."
No matter the score, it was a qualified ride and a glimpse of Olive's future.
That same year, he also got on bulls for free exhibitions at four KPRA rodeos. In August, he joined the DCCC rodeo team as a freshman and finished ninth in the 2007-2008 Central Plains regional standings of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
In 2008, Olive bought a bucking bull to practice on, welded a bucking chute, set up a pen to buck his bull out in and joined the KPRA. He finished sixth in the KPRA year-end standings that year and 11th in the 2008-2009 NIRA regional standings.
Then, in 2009, he had his first win at the Greensburg KPRA Rodeo. Olive was winning the KPRA until the last couple months when some buck-offs left him in third. Later that year, he attended Ricky Ritter's Ride Rank Bull Riding School, where he learned some more techniques and about the mental aspect of the game.
Olive said his consistency in 2010 gave him a much-needed confidence boost. He typically picked up a check from at least one rodeo a weekend, making it much easier to afford to travel to the next.
"Any win boosts your confidence," he said.
At the Park Rodeo in June, Olive let loose and spurred his bull more aggressively than he ever had before at a rodeo. He said he liked to spur in the practice pen but was more careful at rodeos, when money and standings were on the line.
"I always tried to play it safe," he said, "but I’m done doing that."
Taking a chance literally paid off that weekend when Olive split first place with an 82-point ride.
Along with winning the KPRA Champion Bull Rider title, Olive won a trophy saddle and belt buckle. He was the best bull rider in the KPRA in 2010, even beating out bull riders who also compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Professional Bull Riders (PBR).
“It's what everybody shoots for," he said. "I couldn’t believe I did it."