College rodeo coach took long track to professional rodeo, coaching
After a less-than-stellar roping performance in high school, Beau Clark wanted to skip basketball season to focus on roping.
His dad said no and that Clark could always devote his time to rodeo after high school. High school was the only time Clark could play basketball.
Clark, who is in his second year as the head coach of the rodeo team at Laramie County Community College, took that advice. He knew his father was right.
While Clark wanted to focus on rodeo over basketball, he also had a dream to play football at the university he grew up cheering for — Montana State University.
Clark grew up in Belgrade, Mont., which isn’t too far from Bozeman, so becoming a Bobcat was a goal for him and he played five years as a defensive tackle.
“It was a big deal for me to play at Montana State,” he said. “It was a huge challenge to get the opportunity to start.”
His final season was in 2004, and then he became an insurance agent.
“I knew nothing about insurance,” he admitted, but he was given a “great” opportunity.
After two and a half years in the insurance business, Clark took a gamble and pursued professional rodeo. He was in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit and competed in the 2012 National Finals Rodeo.
Then he started coaching, and for two years coached high school football and track in Manhattan, Mont.
He realized that he loved coaching, and found his way back to Montana State as an assistant rodeo coach. That’s where he was until he took the job as the head coach at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming in August 2016. There were some adjustments, but his stint in the insurance industry came in handy when it came to recruitment.
SUCCESS IS KEY
As a coach, Clark has high epectations for his athletes’ academic performance.
“We have extremely high standards,” he said.
He said his athletes’ GPAs in mid-December were a 3.5 average for the women and 3.0 for the men.
The athletes’ performances in the arena are also important, but he doesn’t necessarily look at placements. It’s about how much effort they put in to better themselves. That’s a trait he tries to instill in the athletes.
“We’re trying to coach young people on how to achieve,” Clark said, adding he’s cautious in the recruiting process; he wants athletes he can help grow as people, not just in rodeo.
“We push hard for them to be successful,” Clark said.
He pushes himself to be successful in rodeo as well. Clark competed in steer wrestling in the Circuit Finals, and in October qualified to compete in the nationals in April.
Professionally competing in rodeo is definitely an advantage; the athletes know he absolutely understands what it takes to compete in rodeo. He also understands what it takes to balance rodeo and school work.
Clark is working on his master’s, and will finish this coming summer.
“It helps validate what you’re telling them,” Clark said.
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, email@example.com or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.