story by Merrill Ellis The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni, Inc. awarded $30,000 in scholarships at the 70th Annual College National Finals Rodeo June 9-15 […]
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Don Reichert Joins NIRA Alumni Board
story by Sharon Adams
South Dakotan, Don Reichert, is the new member of the Board of Directors of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and he brings a lifetime of experience with rodeo at every level.
In 1959, Don was 14 and when he started riding bulls in Lee Crowser’s practice pen and from there he went on to championships in regional high school rodeos and in the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association and the South Dakota Rodeo Association. Don traveled with his brother Duane (Rodeo Clown and Bull Fighter) in the mid 1960s and rodeoed from Canada to Texas and Colorado to Michigan helping Duane with clown acts.
Don won the bareback riding at the Jackrabbit Stampede at South Dakota State College (now University) in 1964. From 1966 to 1968 he won numerous all-around, bareback riding, and bull riding championships in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Great Plains Region rodeos. He also competed in the saddle bronc riding and wrestled steers, winning the steer wrestling at the Jackrabbit Stampede in 1967. He was Great Plains Region All-Around Champion in 1966 and 1967; Bull Riding Champion in 1966, 1967, and 1968; and Bareback Riding Champion in 1966. He competed in three College National Finals Rodeos, winning the National Bull Riding title in 1966 and 1968. He was the NIRA Student Manager for the Great Plains Region from 1967 to 1968.
Don filled his PRCA permit in 1968 and competed in many PRCA rodeos in the Badlands Circuits and surrounding states, riding bulls until the fall of 1984. He was the first person to make a qualified ride on Sutton’s unridden Booger Red (five years in the bucking string) winning the bull riding at the Corn Palace Stampede in Mitchell in 1971. He competed in the Circuit Finals in 1978, 1979, and 1981. From 1980 to 1984 Don served as Badlands Circuit Manager and was named Outstanding Member in 1980. His wife, Pat, was given a Badlands Circuit Special Award in 1984 for her service to the circuit.
Don worked with Jim Thompson and South Dakota Public Television as Color Commentator for the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s for their broadcasts of the South Dakota State University Jackrabbit Stampede, South Dakota State High School Rodeos and the National High School Rodeo in Rapid City. He announced the on-air broadcast of the Nebraska State High School Rodeo in Burwell.
In April, 2016, Don was honored at he South Dakota Buckles and Bling fund raiser as the only two-time national champion from SDSU. Also in 2016, he was one of the honorees at the 27th Annual Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Dinner at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center in Ft. Pierre.
After graduating from SDSU in 1968, Don taught Vocational Agriculture at Geddes, SD for three years and then joined the Land O’Lakes Feed Division. In 1982, he became a National Accounts Sales Manager for Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products Division and retired in 2012 after 41 years with the company.
In an interview with Matt Schmidt for the SDSU alumni magazine Don urged young people to go to college and join the rodeo club. He said “I learned to thrive on a challenge when I rodeoed. When I had a tough sales call, I would think of it as facing an unridden bull. That would give me the determination to figure out how to accomplish the sale.”
Don, in a statement about joining the Alumni board said “It is an honor to be a member of the board of directors of the NIRA Alumni and support college rodeo.
The NIRAA brings together past participants and anyone interested in college rodeo. At the 2017 reunion during the College National Finals most of the honorees stated that college rodeo was the reason they completed their advanced education. This experience enhanced their lives and the lives of others.
As a board member my objective will be to increase alumni membership and obtain more scholarships. Anyone interested in promoting college rodeo may become an alumni member, not just past NIRA members. I encourage you to join now.”
Don and wife Pat have four children and six grandchildren who live near them in the Sioux Falls area. He is enjoying time with his grandchildren and has recently taken up metal sculpture, specializing in rodeo silhouettes, of course!