The annual Matt O’Flynn Roughstock School returned this past weekend in Quesnel after a two-year hiatus.
Former British Columbia Rodeo Association champions taught 22 younger students from across the province bull and steer riding, bareback and saddle bronc April 22-24 at Alex Fraser Park.
For some, it was their first seeing a bull, while for others, it was not their first rodeo.
“I remember what my mentors gave me when I first started rodeoing, and it was a lot of encouragement but also direction,” O’Flynn said.
“When we’re having these schools, it isn’t so much what we do this weekend, but it’s what they do when they go home.”
The Roughstock School was presented by the Quesnel Rodeo Club.
It began seven years ago, and O’Flynn said he has discussed at length with the students about fear each time.
“Being fearful is a very normal thing, but being absolutely terrified is not normal, and we don’t want to let anybody get on absolutely terrified because it’s how wrecks happen,” said O’Flynn.
“We don’t want to force anybody because it’s a dangerous sport.”
On Sunday, April 24, parents, family and friends took to the stands of the Gus Cameron Arena to watch the students ride.
During his own adolescence, O’Flynn recalled going to many rodeos where he met many people who helped shape him into the person he is today.
He eventually made rodeo into a professional career that he credits to meeting his wife through and buying his home.
“Because of rodeo, I can take a positive attitude to everyday work,” O’Flynn said.
“I talk to my guys the same way I talk to these kids—you’re trying to build them up, you’re not trying to tear them down, and that in itself is so helpful and I learned it all from rodeo.”
Over the past winter, O’Flynn also worked with some younger students, including the Nazko and ?Esdilagh First Nations, in small indoor group settings.
On Facebook, the Quesnel Rodeo Club said it has been putting on schools in Quesnel for 35 years and thanked everyone for their contribution to the Matt O’Flynn Roughstock School.
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