Former Tarleton State University undergraduate student Brody Cress missed his bachelor’s degree graduation ceremony in December to compete in the last round of saddle bronc riding at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he placed second behind world champion Ryder Wright.
“It was obviously worth it to be able to be at the NFR, and I knew I was going to come back and get my master’s,” Cress said. “So, I’ll be able to walk the stage when I graduate with that. I was honestly so happy to be done with classes. I had to take a few finals while I was out there. So, it was stressful to have to do that, doing sponsorship signings and going to the rodeo every night. Walking the stage is a big deal, but having to trade being out there to being at the NFR, that was worth it. I was happy to be able to do that.”
Cress said he worked hard to pay his way to Las Vegas by paying all entry fees at every single rodeo.
“If you don’t win money, you don’t win anything,” Cress said. “It helps that we have sponsors. I’m starting to get more sponsors. They will give you a certain amount of money, whatever deal you work with them. I was blessed this last year because I went to almost 100 rodeos and won money (from) at least 70 of them. It is hard to stay ahead with how expensive things are – not just entry fees, but also paying for gas, food and if you must stay somewhere.”
Between school, working hard to stay on scholarship and working toward his dream, Cress said the hardest part of his journey has been trying to juggle it all.
“There’s a lot of pro-rodeos around the same time as a lot of college rodeos and I had to miss a few college rodeos to make it to pro-rodeos or pro-rodeos to make it to college rodeos – figuring all of that out is kind of hard. I am on scholarship. I’m here to do a job. So, it’s humbled me to miss college rodeo, but also rodeoing in the PRCA is my career,” Cress said. “Last semester, for three of the college rodeos, I was able to go to both the long round and the short round of them. For two of the rodeos, I was only able to make it to the long round because over the round short of those I had to be at a pro-rodeo instead. I was still able to get points.”
Although unsure of how this semester will go because of all the bigger PRCA and other rodeos he is getting invited to, Cress is still first in the region right now in this college region.
“Our coach is awesome here at Tarleton, Mark, he works with me a lot. He’ll do anything to help me make sure I can get to college rodeos and pro-rodeos,” Cress said.
Since Cress is on scholarship, he must keep up with his school work to keep doing rodeos.
“Last semester wasn’t terrible,” Cress said. “I had two online classes and the rest were in class. I talked to the teachers and they’d be helpful and allowed me to miss as I needed and make up stuff at a different time. Our teachers are so good here at school, and they understand that when we’re rodeoing we must be gone.”
Cress said his present semester should be a lot easier as he starts working on his master’s degree. “I’m in all online classes. So, it allowed me the freedom of being able to not worry about being in class at all and that’s been nice so far,” he said.
With all of Cress’s success comes media exposure. “I have been getting used to it,” Cress said. “It’s not hard for me. I grew up in FFA and public speaking. My parents prepared me well to stand up and talk to people. It’s different being on television or having to do stuff for sponsors, but it’s exciting. Being able to be in those situations – they’re good. It’s a good thing to have sponsors and have support. I enjoy being able to do stuff for those guys and getting put in different situations that I must learn, grow and get through.”
Cress won the average at the NFR and ended up second in the world. Ryder Wright won World Champion.
“I told him ‘good job,’” Cress said. “We were both busy getting interviewed after that all happened. I didn’t get to see him for long. Rodeo is a unique thing because we’re all friends. When we’re in the locker room, we’re good friends and have fun together. We’re competing against each other, but realistically we’re going against the horse and the draw that night. All you can control is what you do on that horse. You can’t control anything else. It allows us to stay friends. I want to win, but I’m also happy when any of those guys do well. We’re always there to help each other (and) do what needs to be done. We both went out there to win. It worked out for him to win the 2017 world title. Now, I’m just ready to get going in 2018,” Cress continued.
Cress’ plans after earning his master’s degree is to continue to rodeo. He grew up rodeoing – his father rodeoed in his early years. Cress began riding bucking horses when he was a freshman in high school. “It’s something I am going to do as long as I can,” Cress said. “It’s an amazing career and I’m glad to be able to do what I love every day.”
The biggest lesson Cress has learned and is still learning is to “always remember your support system,” he said.
Cress said his support system has helped him grow up while coming into rodeo and starting to ride broncs. “Without their help, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. My parents help me with something every day (whether) it’s by sending out pictures to sponsors, helping with thank-you letters… my mom (also) helps me schedule flights or hotel rooms if I need them. My dad helps me look at rodeos and figure out how would be the best to put them together to get as big as I can.”
As he progresses into his career and looks back, an important thing to Cress is “always thanking your support system and making sure they know you’re grateful for what they’ve done for you,” he said.
Cress also has an agent who helps him sponsorships.
“The sponsors who allow me to wear their brand, represent them and help us pay for rodeos or whatever they’re helping me do…those people are the reason I can go rodeo every day and do what I love instead of getting another job,” Cress said.
Brody Cress is sponsored by Cinch, Team Wyoming and Cheyenne Frontier Days.