story by Lindsay Humphrey “My message would be for people to not quit riding because it will keep you young. Don’t stop until you absolutely […]
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Meet the Member Will Rogers
story by Lindsay Humphrey
A bar called Mr Luckys in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, is where 18-year-old Will Rogers got on his first, of many, bulls. On Wednesday nights the bar let bull riders come out and practice. Friday nights were reserved for the open guys while the novice riders competed on Saturdays. “I was a late bloomer you could say,” Will said with a chuckle. “I started riding on Wednesday and then started entering the novice. After about a year and a half of riding, I won the novice buckle series and had to compete in the open.” Before becoming a bull rider, Will was an amateur boxer. He boxed throughout high school, even making it to the junior Olympics. “I think I just got bored with boxing and bull riding came around about that time.”
It was the end of 1995 when Will quenched that boredom by getting on his first bull and less than four years later he was buying his PRCA card. It took a few years to fill his permit, but Will still managed to qualify for the Turquoise Circuit finals six times. In 2011 Will made his way out East to compete in the First Frontier Circuit. He was there five months and made the circuit finals. That next year Will decided to make a run for the NFR. He fell short but did qualify for the American. “That’s probably the biggest event I’ve ever competed in.” In the last few years Will has throttled down his PRCA career, gotten married, and become a father.
Three years ago, Will rode his last bull in the PRCA in favor of joining the NSPRA. “When you turn 40, the NSPRA is the next chapter of rodeo. It’s good for the guys who have other things going on in their life. We all kind of have the same things: wife, kids, work, etc.” As the older generation of bull riders, competing in the PRCA means going up against the 19 and 20-year-olds who are making a living in rodeo. “You can beat those guys once or twice, but that’s about it. We’re all older and life got in the way of our rodeo dreams, but the NSPRA gives us more opportunities to fulfill those goals that we didn’t hit when we were younger.” One of those unfulfilled goals for Will is becoming a world champion.
“When I was first riding, Curtis Jess won two world championships in the seniors.” Curtis is also a native of Arizona. “I want to bring the bull riding world title back to Arizona because we only have a few other guys that have done it. That’s my goal in life.” Curtis and Will are good buddies now, and the joke is that Will can bring home three world titles to supersede Curtis’ two. “It was all a joke until I turned 40, then I figured I should put my money where my mouth was and actually go do it.” Will is slowly but surely chipping away at that goal. He’s made the NSPRA finals for the last two years and plans to do it for a third time this fall.
As a heavy equipment hauler for a construction company native to Arizona, Will has quite a bit of flexibility to accommodate his rodeo schedule. He’s also in partnership with Jake Sporbert on RS Rodeo providing bucking bulls for local amateur rodeos as well as the NSPRA. But most of Will’s focus is now on his wife, Katie, and their 5-year-old son, Cashius. “He loves fighting sheep, so he’s a sheep fighter you could say. He’s having a lot of fun doing that and we’re enjoying watching him.” Although Will has enjoyed his time in rodeo, Katie and Cashius are his proudest accomplishments in life. “Katie’s family used to buck bulls everywhere. And the person that used to buck bulls at Mr Luckys (where Will got his start in bull riding) was actually her dad, so that’s how I met them.” Life has really come full circle for Will and he’s thankful every day for it.