BOZEMAN — It’s been a big month for Montana State Rodeo as the program gears up for the fall season.
Along with transitioning under the Bobcat Athletics umbrella, the program also hired a new head coach - former pro rodeo star Kyle Whitaker.
“It’s not very often that a program like Montana State is available," Whitaker smiled. "I mean you have the defending women’s national champions, and they’re looking for a head coach a month from the season.”
Whitaker, a Nebraska native, is no stranger to the rodeo world.
The longtime cowboy put together one of the most acclaimed careers in pro rodeo history, winning the Linderman Award a record-breaking 10 times for excellence in riding and roping events.
Now, he’s taking the reins of Montana State’s rodeo program, which will be his first-ever coaching job at the college level.
“I’ve put on a lot of clinics, mainly steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding clinics, so I’m used to working with younger people that are learning the sport or just trying to get better," Whitaker explained. "I haven’t had head coaching experience, but I feel like I’m ready for it.”
Earlier this month, Whitaker had an old friend stop by one of their practices to lend a helping hand - former CNFR champion and WNFR qualifier Matt Robertson.
“That’s one thing I hope to do is to use my contacts throughout rodeo to have guys stop in and practice with the team," Whitaker added. "I mean, that’s how you learn to get better is practicing with champions.”
Whitaker’s approach is already translating to the arena. This past weekend the Bobcats opened their fall season in Cody, Wyoming, with six Bobcats winning individual events through two days of action.
“The kids here - they know how to win," Whitaker stated. "They know what to expect. They know how things have been done. Obviously having a veteran team like that is a big asset and has really helped me with the transition. I appreciate all the support so far, and I think it’s going to be a fun season for everybody to watch.”
The Bobcats will head to Glendive this weekend for their second rodeo of the season.