story by Hannah Crandall Down an eight-mile dirt road near Long Valley, South Dakota, 30 miles from Kadoka, Denton Good lives on his family’s ranch. […]
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Meet the Member TJ Schmidt
story by Lily Weinacht
TJ Schmidt, the 2018 SDHSRA Reserve Bull Riding Champion, hit the summer rodeo trail with a confidence that carried him through the NHSFR to a fourth-place finish in the national bull riding standings, even while competing with a torn meniscus he sustained at the IFYR. “I felt pretty good about the week itself. You always wish it could’ve gone better, but I didn’t know at the time that I had a torn meniscus, so I’m pretty happy with how it ended,” says the 19 year old from Belle Fourche, South Dakota. “With it being my first year out there, I wasn’t too sure what to expect or how things would go. There’s a great group of stock contractors out there, so I knew the stock was going to be great, and I went at it with everything I had and let the cards fall where they fell.” TJ also participated in some of the state events, such as cheering on South Dakota in the volleyball tournament. “I got to hang out with the kids from my state one last time, and I visited the sports medicine team at least once a day. I want to give them a big thank you for everything they did to get me ready to ride every day. And thank you to Dr. Kipp Gould and the staff at Regional Orthopedics in my home town for helping me get fixed up.”
Growing up in a ranching and rodeo community led TJ to enter his first rodeo when he was 5, and he competed in the NLBRA and junior high rodeos before joining the SDHSRA as a freshman. “My favorite high school rodeo has to be our state finals every year. What makes it fun is the extra competition that is there—you get everybody from the top of every region in South Dakota to battle it out for a state title, and I love that feeling.” TJ tried his hand at saddle bronc riding for a year and team ropes occasionally, but riding bulls is his main focus. “I like the challenge of having my back up against the wall and having to go at every ride like it’s my last, because it always could be,” he explains. TJ also competed in 4-H rodeos and was the 2017 4-H Bull Riding Champion, while he showed sheep for several years after he won a bet. “There was a competition to catch a sheep, and my buddies bet me I couldn’t win one, and sure enough, I did. I showed it for two years, and the baby out of it, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.
“What keeps me motivated is the people around me that always inspire me to be the best I can be at each and every rodeo. There’s a lot of people who have helped me—the Bothwell and Crago families from South Dakota, Andrew Coughlin, Tanner Williamson and his family, and my parents, Brian and Melody Schmidt, who have given me tremendous support. I didn’t always think I could do it, but they did, and that’s what kept me going. Jade Nixon got us practice bulls we could get on locally, and Shawn Harris has always had advice here in our practice pen.”
TJ graduated from Belle Fourche High School this spring, and is starting his freshman year at Oklahoma Panhandle State University on a rodeo scholarship. “I plan to pursue a degree in elementary education, and I bought my PRCA permit and I’m looking to fill that while I’m down there. My plan is to become a teacher after I’m finished rodeoing, and to look forward to the next generation and help some of them, and maybe be a rodeo coach. I’m trying to get through the college season until Christmas when they plan to fix my knee, so I’m trying to take care of my body and keep it healthy. I’d like to make the college finals as a freshman, get my permit filled, and just keep trying to ride the best I can everywhere I go.”