LAS VEGAS -- The National Final Rodeo rages on in Las Vegas and several Montanans remain in the hunt for a world title. Bridger Chambers of Butte won the fourth go-round in the steer wrestling on Sunday. But rodeo wasn't Chambers' first sport.
Before he was a bulldogging star, Chambers played high school basketball for his father Keith in Stevensville and went on to play hoops at Montana Western for current Providence men's basketball coach Steve Keller.
His former mentor has been intently watching coverage of the NFR and says the same qualities that make Chambers a good steer wrestler made him a dream to coach on the basketball court.
“What you’re seeing in rodeo is exactly what he was like as a basketball player,” Keller said. “He’s highly intelligent, extremely motivated, he was very coachable, and he studies the game and was physical. Back then he could shoot the 3 and did a little bit of everything.”
Chambers initially competed in rodeo at the University of Montana after an all-state career playing football and basketball at Stevensville. But he got the basketball itch and transferred to Western where he could compete in both sports. In two seasons, he averaged 2.8 points per game and 1.8 rebounds.
“I wasn't sure how he'd fit on our basketball team,” Keller said. “But he was doing it the whole time, playing basketball and rodeoing and that just tells you he’s a good athlete.”
Chambers might be the only athlete in Montana history to compete in both the NAIA national basketball tournament and the College National Finals rodeo in the same year. Keller knew he was destined for great things.
“I watched that the other night and I'm more nervous watching him rodeo than us playing a basketball game,” Keller laughed. “I’m just super proud of him, it won’t be long until he wins a world championship."
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