One can say this cowboy has come a long way from practicing on a feed yard bucket calf just a few years ago.
In only his fourth year of riding bulls, sophomore Brody Olive recently earned the title of Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Champion Bull Rider 2010. Olive, who is a new recruit on the Fort Hays State University rodeo team and transfer from Dodge City Community College, achieved the feat by earning the most money this season at KPRA-sanctioned rodeos throughout the states of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Olive pocketed exactly $6,869.58 in winnings prior to the KPRA Finals last weekend, and although he didn’t win any more money at the finals, his lead of more than $1,700 ahead of second place still held. His first-place year-end finish resulted from winning six rodeos and placing second at four more in the 2010 season.
Arguably one of his most rewarding wins was at the McCracken Rodeo in July, where he pocketed more than $1,800.
Olive said winning the McCracken Rodeo has been a goal of his and his older brother’s (Brett, a saddle bronc rider) ever since they started competing in KPRA rodeos. The McCracken Rodeo is the 9-time KPRA Rodeo of the Year and is well-known for its rank livestock that is brought in from McCloy Rodeo Company out of Morse, Texas. It awards a unique, handmade leather buckle to the winners of each event.
“We (Brett and I) have been trying to get that buckle for the last three years, so that one felt good,” Olive said.
He got his start in bull riding by riding a bucket calf that his dad brought home from the feed yard when he was in junior high school.
“We (my brother Brett and I) just started riding her at the house,” Olive said. “We got on her a couple days a week. We would get her in a corner and then hop on and let her go. She never grew up too much or got really big. My parents made me ride her for two years before they ever let me get on a bull. My dad figured if I couldn’t ride that dwarf cow, I had no business getting on a big bull.”
In fact, the first time he ever sat on a bull’s back wasn’t even in the practice pen. It was at the Dodge City Little Britches Rodeo when he was a sophomore in high school in 2005. After that, he didn’t get on another until 2007, when he competed again at that rodeo. That year, he also got on bulls for free exhibition at a few rodeos when they had an extra bull available. Just a year later, he bought a bucking bull to practice on, welded a bucking chute and put together a pen to buck his bull out in, and joined the KPRA. He finished sixth in the year-end standings that year. Then in 2009, he finished third.
Olive said his consistency in 2010 gave him a much-needed confidence boost. He typically picked up a check from at least one rodeo a weekend, making it much easier to afford to travel to the next.
“Any win boosts your confidence,” he said.
At the Park Rodeo in June, Olive let loose and spurred his bull more aggressively than he ever had at a rodeo. He said he liked to spur in the practice pen but was more careful at rodeos when money and standings were on the line.
“I always tried to play it safe,” he said, “but I’m done doing that.”
Taking a chance literally paid off that weekend when Olive split first place with an 82-point ride.
Along with winning the KPRA Champion Bull Rider title, Olive won a trophy saddle and belt buckle. Olive was the best bull rider in the KPRA in 2010, even beating out bull riders who also compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Professional Bull Riders (PBR).
“It (the year-end title) is what everybody shoots for,” he said. “I couldn’t believe I did it.”
A couple other cowboys from the FHSU rodeo team also competed at the KPRA Finals. Junior Cory Hatcher competed in team roping and tie-down roping, and rodeo team assistant coach Ross Russell competed in team roping.
In the first round, Hatcher and his partner, Duell Strickler, placed fourth in team roping. Russell and his partner, Dakota Koehn, won the second round despite the fact that the two had never roped together before. Neither of their partners qualified for the finals, leaving them to make it work together.
Hatcher also placed fourth in tie-down roping in the second round.
The Fort Hays rodeo team will compete at its first rodeo of the fall season on Sept. 17-19 in Colby.