ProFile: Phil Sumner Rodeo Company
The International Finals Youth Rodeo, known as the world’s richest youth rodeo, will take place for the 27th year on July 7-12, 2019, in Shawnee, […]
It’s double-duty for Jim Dewey Brown.
The Arizona cowboy became general manager for Prescott Frontier Days in February and he will begin as commissioner for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association on Jan. 1.
Although more than 1,100 miles separate his home-base and the NIRA office in Walla Walla, Wash., he will be serving both roles simultaneously.
“I’m going to get a lot of frequent flyer miles,” Brown laughed. “Prescott is very, very proud and happy I have the position of commissioner because they see the importance of being connected to the youth of our sport and building those relationships so that when the kids go pro they can go to Prescott for the World’s Oldest Rodeo.”
Brown, 44, earned a Masters in agriculture and a Bachelors in Animal Science from Tarleton State University while on their rodeo team and later as their assistant coach.
“The cool thing with Tarleton was I could tailor my Masters to sports marketing and coaching classes,” Brown said.
Brown started competing in high school rodeo in the spring semester of his junior year and climbed the ranks through college with Tarleton State. Now he wants to help others do the same.
Brown also wants to help regional rodeos improve their productions to help grow college rodeo overall.
“He’s a very well-prepared young man,” said standing NIRA commissioner Roger Walters. “He’s very personable and very organized and very driven and he wants everything to showcase itself to the best of its ability.”
Brown was the New Mexico State University rodeo coach from 2002-15. There were 24 students on the team when Brown arrived, but that soon multiplied.
“At my peak there was 92 and when I left there was 60-some kids on the rodeo team, which is much more manageable for one person,” Brown said.
Under Brown’s leadership, the team had 157 CNFR qualifiers, 19 Academic All-Americans and 18 Scholar Americans.
Brown coached six national champions: Matt Garza (TR 2005), Wyatt Althoff (AA 2008), Johnny Salvo (TD 2008 and ’11), Megan Albrecht (GT 2008), Bailey Gow (BA 2008).
Helping younger students understand the steps they need to take to progress in rodeo is one of his goals. Some student-athletes get recruited, but Brown is more concerned about the ones who slip under the radar.
“There’s some disconnect between high school and college and it’s important that we grow our student-athlete base and catch the kids who fall through cracks in getting to college rodeo,” Brown said. “One of the greatest things about college rodeo is it’s that next step — high school, college, then pro.”
Walters has high hopes for his successor.
“I think he will do a lot more with social media than what has taken place during my tenure,” Walters said. “He will be good for students and sponsorships and just overall do a tremendous job.”
Some of Brown’s students went on to excel professionally such as bareback rider Trenten Montero and breakaway roper Nicole Baggarley. Montero competed at the 2019 NFR and finished 10th in the world, and Baggarley is making her NFR debut this year, finishing 13th for the regular season.
“The kids are what I am most proud of,” Brown said. “They’re outstanding individuals.”
After 48 years of working in college rodeo as an assistant coach, coach, facility director, arena director and then commissioner for the last 13 years, Walters is looking forward to retirement.
“I’ll be doing whatever my wife tells me to do,” Walters laughed. “We all need a to-do list and I have one so I feel like I’ll be good. I feel like new ideas and new blood will be good for the sport, especially college rodeo and Jim sure is the man to do that.”
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