SHERIDAN — Following their dreams, Jeffery Zdziarski and Brandt Ross of Sheridan High School have signed on to continue rodeo at the collegiate level. Zdziarski will be joining Gillette’s College rodeo team and Ross will join Montana State University’s rodeo team.
“I really like the coach at MSU,” Ross said. “Overall the whole place was much more upbeat than places I visited. It was nice to see that the seniors took a major role in leadership by helping the younger athletes out.
“While I was there some were taking their teammates aside that were struggling and were showing them where to fix their mistakes,” Ross added. “One of the seniors was talking about staying and helping out the team next year as an assistant coach.”
While at MSU Ross will be competing in tie-down roping and team roping. He plans to major in range and wildlife management.
“I think Bozeman will be a great fit for him,” Ross’ mother, Laurie, said. “I’ve went with him on both trips and I think he will be a good fit for Bozeman. I think he will have a wonderful time there and collegiate rodeo will be good for him.”
Zdziarski plans to major in welding and will be competing in saddle bronc and bareback riding.
“I have family around that area and Gillette’s rodeo team is a competitive team,” Zdziarski said. “I liked the coach and the team was welcoming.”
High school rodeo is not like any other team sport, at least not in Sheridan. The athletes do not have a coach to train them or show them what they are doing wrong. It’s all up to each individual athlete to figure out how to compete in the sport, watch what they are doing and figure out where to correct their mistakes.
They travel to each rodeo on their own, sometimes with parents sometimes without, pulling their horse trailers and registering for their event.
“We are pretty dedicated to this sport and really just love it,” Zdziarski said. “You don’t have to force us to go to practice because we just enjoy it that much.”
“It is very rewarding because you went out and did it yourself,” he said. “When you place at the rodeo it feels real great because you did it yourself, you trained yourself and you took yourself there.”
Laurie Ross said she believes rodeo helps teach young people balance.
“Scott (Ross’ father) and I always preached to Brant that school came first, because you can really mess up there and spend a lot of money and it can go sideways,” she said. “You have to keep a focus, a balance, and know your priorities. It will be neat for him to go to college and actually have a coach. I feel he will really excel their having someone help him in his weaker areas.”
Zdziarski is ranked first in Wyoming for bareback riding and second in saddle bronc riding. Ross is fourth for tie-down roping.
Sheridan rodeo athletes will begin their spring season in Laramie April 12-13. They will host one rodeo, May 25-26 at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds.