NCTA student determined to rodeo despite odds
June 3, 2010
Like his teammates at the University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical (NCTA), Tanner McVay has a hard time covering the expenses he needs to stay on the college rodeo team. Unlike the rest of his teammates, however, McVay faces a unique set of challenges.
On April 24, 2004, McVay, a sophomore in high school at the time, was kicked by his horse during the first rodeo of the spring season. After having warmed up his horse and cinching up, McVay rode into the arena to compete in his favorite event – steer wrestling. Steer wrestling, or bull dogging, is a type of competition in which the rider leaps from his horse and throws a steer to the ground by seizing its horns and twisting its neck. Even though the sprinting horses can reach speeds of up to 35 miles an hour before the rider jumps off, McVay never expected what happened next to take place. McVay slid off his horse and down onto the steer. As he slung around the horse, his horse kicked him in the back of the head.
McVay was immediately rushed to the hospital in Imperial, Neb., and flown to Denver, Colo., for emergency surgery. Doctors came upon a blood clot and removed it, but McVay was still in a coma for the next two months. He spent the next six months in three different hospitals. When he recovered, doctors told him that he would never walk, let alone ride, again.
Nevertheless, to the surprise of many, McVay got back on a horse Easter Day, 2005. As a student at NCTA, he now hopes to travel with the college rodeo team, despite the brace on his left leg.
“Money’s tight, and I can’t work like other riders can,” said McVay. “Although I’ve worked hard to be where I am today, I still have limitations on what I can do.”
McVay is a member of the NCTA rodeo team and practices throughout the year. But when the team travels to events, McVay stays home. The travel is simply too expensive, he said.
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McVay hopes to travel with the team next year if he can raise enough money for his NIRA individual membership card and other fees. Since rodeo is considered a club event at NCTA, the students receive little financial support from the college for things like food and boarding for themselves and their horses. The students rely heavily on fundraisers and sponsors to help pay their expenses in order to participate in rodeos as far north as Fargo, N.D., and River Falls, Wisc.
NCTA’s men’s rodeo team is currently ranked seventh in the Great Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. The Women’s team is currently ranked eighth. Levi Tyan of NCTA is second in the region in the Team Roping Heeler category. Ben Kartak is tenth in Saddle Bronc Riding and eighth in Tie Down Roping.