story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
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Meet the Member Cody Sauls
story by Lindsay Whelchel
With baseball being known as America’s pastime, the transition to another heritage-driven sport like rodeo was probably familiar territory for Georgia athlete Cody Sauls.
Cody grew up in Villa Rica, Georgia playing baseball since he was 3 years old, a sport he took all the way into competing in college. Also active in football, he developed an athlete’s mentality early on.
“Preparation is domination, so you’ve got to prepare to dominate. You can’t just go out there and expect to have good results without putting in any work,” Cody says. It’s a lesson that bull riding was quick to reinforce for him.
Though Cody came from a rodeo background, his dad was a bull rider up until Cody’s early childhood when he quit to focus on his family, and Cody even has early memories of mutton bustin’ and riding calves, but school sports quickly took priority. He didn’t gravitate back to rodeo until the age of 20 when he went to watch his dad’s bulls buck in the practice pen. That’s when he got the itch to give it a try. “I was like ‘man I’m an athletic guy. It can’t be that hard, and it was. It was definitely that hard,” Cody laughs recalling.
But he was used to training and putting in the effort it takes to succeed in sports, and since he was done playing baseball and football, Cody turned his focus to bull riding. Now 25, his focus is paying off.
Cody came close to qualifying for his first International Finals Rodeo his rookie year, then achieved the goal his second year. He’s had some big wins in the IPRA, including a round win at the Lakeside, California Bulls Only Rodeo and Canadian Cup qualifier wins in Quebec that led to a round win in the Coupe Canada. In addition to making the IFR, his favorite moment was perhaps making the short go in the IPRA’s biggest rodeo of the year, Festival Western de St. Tite in Quebec. This season is his third year with the IPRA, and Cody has shot to the top of the world standings with a winning streak over the Fourth of July run.
The difficulty of the sport motivates Cody.
“I’m just a competitor. That’s all I’ve done all my life, win or lose, everything is a competition. [Bull riding] just motivates me to keep bettering myself.”
Like any sport, Cody prioritizes eating well and keeping in shape during the year with a cardio-based training program. He also keeps busy giving baseball lessons and studying in the library as he finishes up his last year at the University of West Georgia.
But as soon as summer hits, Cody is on the rodeo road non-stop. This year he’s traveling up north with IFR qualifiers Ross Burney and Cody Brewer. It’s aligning with good people that contributes to his success, he says.
“I’ve always been on a team. All of my sports before have always been team-based, and bull riding is individual, so my biggest hurdle is, I don’t like rodeoing by myself, because I feel like if you’re going through slumps or down, it’s hard for you to pick yourself up. It’s easier to have somebody there to encourage you,” he says and adds, “I feel like I rodeo better, anybody rodeos better, if they have a team with them.”
He credits his traveling partners and his family with their support and will no doubt pass that appreciation for teamwork and dedication to a tough sport like rodeo on in his future plans to become a baseball coach and own his own baseball facility. But first he’s after a world title in the arena.