SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Press sat down with bareback rider Devan Reilly, a Sheridan native, and asked him a little bit on how he transformed from a 145-pound offensive lineman into a bareback rider with his eyes set on the National Finals Rodeo.
The Sheridan Press: How were your high school years?
Devan Reilly: I went to Sheridan High School and graduated in 2010. I was on the football team we ended up winning state in 2009 and I was the center and middle linebacker. I was one of the smallest centers in the state. I weighed 145 pounds and it was my first year ever playing the position because they needed somebody there that was a senior. We had a great coach in Don Julian. He really kind of changed my life and showed me the ropes.
TSP: You attended quite a few colleges, how was that?
DR: Going into college, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought being a firefighter would be kind of cool, so I decided to go to Casper College and get a fire science degree. I went to Gillette College after that and got an industrial electrician degree. I had one more year of eligibility, and I transferred to Tarleton State.
TSP: How’d you get your start in rodeo?
DR: I got into it actually as a hobby. Active minds are very healthy, so for me I still wanted to be an athlete and in the sports realm. Casper College didn’t have wrestling or football, and I’m definitely not tall enough to be a basketball player. I said, ‘Well, my uncle was a bareback rider, and my dad used to fight bulls. Rodeo looks fun.’ I was a big fan of Chris LeDoux and bareback looks fun. I didn’t want to get chased by a bull and I didn’t have the money to buy a saddle at the time. Kelly Timberman got hired as an assistant (at Casper College) and took me on as a project.
TSP: You found quite a bit of success pretty quickly in rodeo, didn’t you?
DR: I ended up qualifying for College Nationals Final Rodeo in bareback riding two years in a row (once at Casper and once at Gillette). I ended up making short round and placing seventh my first year, and I was sixth my second year. At Tarleton State I ended up making college finals a third time, and we ended up winning the men’s national championship. That was cool. I ended up winning state in football and also got to be on a national championship team.
TSP: What do you do now?
DR: Once I finished with school, I said, ‘Well, do I want to jump into the workforce right away or see how far I can go in rodeo?’ Ever since that I took rodeoing professionally. I got my permit in 2013. I got my card in 2015, so ever since 2015 I’ve been rodeoing professionally. When rodeo season slows down, I guide hunters in the fall.
TSP: What does the future hold?
DR: My goal is to definitely make the Nationals Finals Rodeo. That’s the whole reason that we travel as hard as we do. … I don’t know how you can change the world with bareback rodeoing or rodeo, but just trying to make people’s experience when they do come to the rodeo better. We get to meet a whole bunch of people going up and down the road. I met a professional arm wrestler and you get to BS with people like that, tell your story, and see how their story is going in life. If there’s anyway you can leave them with a positive note, maybe try and change their experience in some shape or form, and come out better on the other side.