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Meet the Member Chad VanCampen
story by Lindsay King
“You never try to win first, you have to just make your own run. It is the best thing you can do for your rodeo game. And when things don’t go quite right, have a short-term memory and move on to the next one,” said Chad VanCampen, McCook, Nebraska steer wrestler. Competing for 27 years on the rodeo road, Chad knows a thing or two about how to compete and how not to, both in the amateur and professional settings. “Growing up on a ranch, I was on a horse at a young age and my dad team roped at amateur and pro rodeos. My parents were probably the most supportive in making sure we had decent horses” Chad started roping and competing at a young age, moving up the ranks from there. “It is something I have always done.”
Chad attended Lamar Community College in his hometown of Lamar, Colorado, before transferring to Oklahoma Panhandle State University to continue rodeoing. “I won a couple of rodeos, but never qualified for the finals. I missed it by two spots one year.” Chad graduated with a degree in agribusiness and minors in agronomy and animal science. It was in 1998 that Chad got his permit, he missed filling it that first year by only $100. Which was quite a feat since he was only going on the weekends while holding down a job. “It was probably 2004 that I first had a really, really good horse and I was traveling with some phenomenal athletes. We made some amateur and circuit finals that year.” The next two years proved to be even better for the bull dogger.
In 2005, Chad made his first trip to the NFR, though he was on the hazing side of the box his horse was on the bull dogging side. “Garrett Nokes and Ryan Jarrett rode my horse out there that year. Having your horse make something like that is pretty neat. I have had a lot of success helping guys as a hazer also. It is a good deal to help other guys win.” Traveling with Garrett for the 2005 season was a major contributor to Chad’s success later on. “He taught me a lot about how to enter, travel and how to win.”
The humble cowboy also had his fair share of success. He started out 2006 by winning Odesa, Texas, and stayed strong all year to also take the win in Salinas. “Salinas and Cheyenne are probably my two favorites, they are a little different than the rest, with a longer start you have to run those steers down. It is a little more western. It can get a little wild. You really have to cowboy up and go catch them.” Chad took two more trips to the NFR, this time with the Jule Hazen.
When Chad is not chasing down wild steers on a long score, he is keeping his own mama cows and calves in check at home. Last summer he became a Cow Boss feed dealer, an ideal business venture for someone who loves agriculture and being his own boss. “I am a regional dealer for the liquid feed business, which is basically an alternative to protein tubs and mineral. I also have a processing crew going at a couple local feed yards.”
With so many irons in the fire, Chad’s time on the rodeo road is limited to the spring, summer and fall. “I don’t do a lot of rodeos in the winter because I am calving and delivering feed. That is a good time to heal up and get back in shape.” As the season comes to a close, Chad is making the finals in the M-SRA, NSRA and KPRA. This winter he hopes to get a couple more horses going to get ready for next season. “I am super competitive, so when it gets to the point that I am no longer on that level I will probably find something else to do. This has been a great year, I have two young guys living with me this year and they have been great. It is fun to teach them and watch them have success in steer wrestling. That is a big part of what makes it all fun and worth it in the end.”