JD (James Daniel) Schulze calls Brighton, Colo., home, but he is most at home in the arena. The rodeo clown spends the summer working rodeos […]
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Cody Heffernan missed going to the CNF last year by one bull. “It was the last rodeo of the season and I bucked off and that was it,” said the 23-year-old bull rider from Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico. He was determined to make it this year – and he did. Cody is sitting number one in the nation going into the finals. He changed a few things this year including not putting pressure on himself. “You have to perform good for your coach and your team and of course for yourself, but you’ve got to forget about it and just ride and have fun.”
Cody is a long way from home – 21 hours by plane to be exact. Cody came over in August of 2011 from his home in Singleton, NSW Australia, to rodeo. “It was good but bad – I was sitting second in the National Rodeo Association back home. I gave that up and came over.” He had finished apprenticing as a diesel mechanic but decided that field wasn’t for him. “I didn’t like it at all, so I wanted to come over here and study something that bucked. It might come in handy when I raise some bucking bulls.” He has one semester left before completing his studies in Animal Science.
Cody is spending his time before the College Finals going to the gym and playing X Box.
“I do a lot of cardio and definitely not getting bulky, just getting lean.” He admits life is a bit boring right now. “I have two mates here from Australia and they went home. My girlfriend is from Canada and she’s gone too.” After the college finals, he will head to Canadafor a couple PBRs and pro rodeos. Then he will go home to Australia and go to a mate’s wedding. He will return to the US in September to start his last semester at Mesaland.
Cody started riding at the age of 6. “We don’t have sheep riding back home, we got on little calves. You go from calves to steers to junior bulls, second division bulls and open bulls. They are just starting high school rodeo – all the juniors are run with the senior. Growing up I’d watch all the pros ride at the same rodeo I was riding at.”
He learned how to ride bulls from his older brother (Craig). “He was riding and I basically was learning off him growing up. I’ve looked up to guys like Gary Leffew, Justin McBride – I like their style of riding bulls.” Cody wears a large cowboy hat when he rides that is pulled way down on his head. “You only need to see the front shoulder of the bull and it blocks everything else out. It gets me in trouble when I go to jump off because I don’t know where I am.”
Growing up, Cody rode horses – a little bit of competition – not rodeo, and raced motorbikes. The town he is from has a population of around 20,000 and he had a couple hundred in his school. He also played football.
He got on his first big bull when he was 16. “I actually won my first event in the second division bulls, but it didn’t feel real good. I was used to riding calves and there’s a big difference between bulls and steers.” He has been going to the PBR since he turned 18. “I won an event when I turned 19 in Australia, that put me #1 for about three months. In 2009 made the national finals – PBR Austrailian finals. I made the short go.” He is a seven time Junior NFR qualifier.
There have been other students go through Mesalands Community College from Australia and Cody is grateful for CJ Aragon. “He is a good fellow. He gave me an opportunity and I’d like to thank him for that. He’s not afraid to get kids from other countries – Canada,Australia, and Mexico.” The hardest thing for Cody to get used to was driving on the opposite side of the road. “You all drive on the wrong side. There’s been plenty of times that I get in the passenger side of the car and realized I had to get out and get in the drivers side.”
He says that the country is pretty similar, so that wasn’t a very difficult adjustment. His favorite food here is Buffalo Wings. “I think they might have those there, but you can get them everywhere here.” Both of his parents work in the coal mine – his Mom drives a big dump truck, the same ones that Cody used to fix when he was apprenticing there. “Basically my whole family is in the coal mines – my two older brothers (Craig and Brad) and mom and dad (Colleen and Peter), and my older sister, Casey. His oldest brother, Brad, surprised him and came over for the CNFR along with his parents and Casey.
As for Cody’s future – he plans to win the world. “I want to be a champion so as long as it takes to do that.”