Apr 19, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorVeteran Central Wyoming College head rodeo men's college coach Rick Smith has accepted the same position at Cochise College in Arizona.
Smith is completing his 17th season as the head coach for the Rustlers. Cochise College is a two-year college with campuses in Sierra Vista and Douglas, Ariz.
Smith turned CWC into a powerhouse rodeo program during his tenure. The Rustlers won a number of Central Rocky Mountain Regional titles. Several athletes won individual college titles.
"I'm proud of what we have accomplished at CWC," Smith said. "There was nothing here when I started. The reputation of the rodeo program was terrible."
Smith will coach CWC through the 2012 College National Finals Rodeo on Saturday, June 15, at the Casper Events Center.
"Cochise College is a better opportunity all the way around," Smith said. "Money is a big part of it. Warm weather is a big part of it. Change is a big part of it."
The CWC men finished fourth in the team standings in 2009 at the CNFR. The Rustlers were third in 2005, fourth in 2004, seventh in 2003 and fifth in 2000.
"At that level one or two things can make a difference," Smith said. "We have had opportunities and what you want is an opportunity for a championship. It didn't work out, but I'm not disappointed because getting the opportunity is the hard part."
Smith will be reunited at Cochise College with former CWC vice-president J.D. Rottweiler. Rottweiler is the president at Cochise College.
The Rustler men won Central Rocky Mountain regional titles in 2009, 2007, 2004, 2002 and 2001.
CWC placed second in the region in 2010, 2006, 2005,
"I'm not the proudest of the championships, but I'm proudest of the kids that I gave the opportunity to have a better life," Smith said. "I didn't make the champions. The champions made me."
The top two squads from the region qualify for the CNFR.
"It was a good feeling when we kept going to the College National Finals," Smith said. "We had a good run. One thing about my coaching style is that you really like me or you don't like me at all because I try and not settle for anything but their best."
Smith talked about happened at the 2000 CNFR in Casper, when he was running the chutes and former CWC rodeo athlete Paul Jones won the national title in bareback.
Smith has a photo of Jones riding at the CNFR in his office.
"Paul was one of the last ones out and he had a great ride," Smith said. "I was the first person Paul saw when they announced his score. It was a special moment. Paul was a hard-working kid. He had some rough luck with injuries, and for it to end up like that was really special."
Former CWC steer wrestling Tyrel Turner of Shoshoni won a title in the 2005 season at the CNFR.
Turner was injured in a car wreck last September.
"We want to keep praying for Tyrel," Smith said. "It's a long slow process, but Tyrel is fighting hard."
Ty Breuer captured the 2010 national bareback title for the Rustlers.
"There have been so many guys that went on and had great pro careers," Smith said. "I have stayed close to them."
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