BOZEMAN — For Montana State University student Weston Brown, it's not unusual to crunch numbers on an economics assignment and ride a bucking bronco, all in one day.
In addition to working toward dual bachelor's degrees — one in finance through the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and the other in agricultural business through the MSU College of Agriculture — Brown rides for the MSU Rodeo team, competing in saddle bronc, calf roping, steer wrestling and team roping events.
After winning multiple titles in 2015, including the "all around" title at the Northwest College Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, Brown has high hopes for the 2016 season, which kicks off with the MSU Spring Rodeo at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, April 7-10.
"It's the premier event all year," said head MSU Rodeo coach Andy Bolich. "It's more like a pro rodeo. It's definitely the one the kids look forward to competing in."
Brown is fun to watch at the rodeo, said Bolich, because "he's a really versatile cowboy, which is hard to find. He might win in the saddle bronc one weekend and the steer wrestling the next."
Rodeo "is a rush," said Brown. It's also an extension of his upbringing and his academic goals, which are tied to his family's farm near Big Sandy.
"From the time I was five years old, I've been riding horses," said Brown. Managing cattle for the family's cow-calf operation "is where I learned to rope," he said.
Brown said his MSU studies are aimed at cultivating "an analytical ability to make farming and ranching work as a business" in an increasingly competitive and challenging market. He hopes to be able to take those skills back to the farm at Big Sandy, where his family grows wheat, legumes and other crops in addition to raising cattle.
During much of the fall and spring semester, Brown and the roughly 60 other student athletes on the rodeo team balance their studies with up to 12 hours of practice per week, plus additional hours tending to the horses and other stock they use to compete.
"Rodeo practice is kind of like studying," Brown said. "If you want to succeed, you've got to put in the time and work hard."
“Weston has done an excellent job of balancing a rigorous academic program and a demanding athletic schedule," said Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics Professor Gary Brester. "He has been a solid performer in the classroom."
Last year, while competing in saddle bronc — an event in which the rider is scored on both the horse’s ability to buck as well as the cowboy’s ability to ride — Brown sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery.
"For him to come back from that injury, and be competitive, really says something about his determination," Bolich said.
Now in his third year on the MSU Rodeo team, Brown said he appreciates the unique challenges and perspective that the sport offers. "You can think you know exactly what a horse is going to do," he said, "but that doesn't mean it's going to make that same ride out of the chute."
"When you make a good ride on a horse, it can be so smooth and fun," he said. "You know when you've done a good job, because it feels easy."
For more information about the Spring Rodeo, visit http://brickbreeden.com/events/rodeo_2016/. For tickets, call (406) 994-CATS.
Contact: Weston Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org