story by Lindsay Humphrey Few people can practice with their team mate only a hand full of times and still find two heels more often […]
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Meet the Member Sam Van Buskirk
story by Lindsay King
“Nothing is handed to you; you have to go and earn it.” This is the sage advice Sam Van Buskirk lives, works and rodeos by. It was handed down to him by his parents – Frank and Susan. “My grandpa and dad have roped forever, so I grew up around horses and on a cattle farm,” said the 18-year-old. They raise cattle and wheat while also turning the manure into fertilizer. The peaceful nature of living in the country and raising cattle lends itself to the quiet demeanor of this horseman and gives him a leg up when faced with a challenge. It’s not surprising that a team event happens to be Sam’s favorite.
“I really like heeling. Having to work with someone else and be on the same page as them is more of a challenge and I like that.” He’s also a tie-down roper. “Rodeo is especially difficult because you are dealing with animals and at any given point they can decide to do literally anything.” Putting steps into action during any type of roping run takes confidence and skill, both of which Sam recognizes he can always use more of. “My mom is the glue that holds us all together. When I’m down or need a boost of confidence, she’s right there for me. She’s there for the long nights, and early mornings, she’s there no matter the weather.”
Sam’s younger sisters – Madison, 13, and Aubrey, 6 – are always there as well. “I think my sisters enjoy going to rodeos mostly because we all get to spend time together as a family. Normally during the week, we are all so busy that we don’t get done working until late.” Dance practice for the girls runs late into the evenings just the same as roping and farm chores do. When neither of Sam’s parents can attend a rodeo or roping jackpot with him, it’s grandpa who steps up to the plate. “Grandpa is a big-time supporter; he’s right there with my dad. He’s helped in so many ways I can’t even count them all. He’s been there done that as far as rodeo goes.” That lifetime of knowledge is slowly but surely being passed down to Sam.
Hauling down the road away from the peace and quiet of home is perhaps the hardest part about rodeo for Sam. Traveling between rodeos in the same night or weekend is Sam’s least favorite aspect of the sport. What keeps him going from one rodeo to the next are the friends waiting for him at each one. “I know a bunch of people that I’ve built friendships with that will last a lifetime.” The high standards of competition and conduct keep Sam chasing those white lines on the weekends. “The OHSRA is one of the best rodeo organizations that I’ve been apart of. Everyone is super friendly and willing to help when you need it.”
This Ringling High School senior plays both baseball and football, but has his sights set on taking rodeo with him to college. He plans to attend Western Oklahoma State University in Altus for two years before transferring to finish his degree and years of eligibility in rodeo. “Ultimately, I want to make a career out of rodeo; be able to make a living. Wake up every day and go rope. Just love life.” As Sam experiences some of his “lasts” of high school rodeo, roping in his favorite arena certainly isn’t one of them. The Lazy E in Guthrie, Oklahoma, hosts two Oklahoma high school rodeos throughout the season, but Sam ropes there for many team and calf roping jackpots. “It’s always a neat place to go and compete at. You have the big coliseum where the timed event is at and it’s just cool to go compete in there.”