As the calves are loaded in the shoot, members of the Texas Tech rodeo team line up for roping practice. A lot goes into coaching a collegiate rodeo team, like finding calves, steers, and bucking stock, just to name a few responsibilities, but Philip Berry said that leading the team at Texas Tech is his dream job. After serving 11 years as the New Mexico Junior College rodeo coach, Berry said that he is hitting the ground running this rodeo season.
"I doubled or tripled my program just in one year," Berry said. "Just the education at Texas Tech is beyond belief."
Berry has already spent many miles on the road this summer traveling across the nation to recruit outstanding talent. And now that the fall semester is underway, organized rodeo practices every single day make sure that talent is working hard.
"It's incredible the maturity at Texas Tech with the students. I'm very proud of the students," Berry said. "We have some extremely talented calf ropers, bronc riders, bulls riders, especially our girls, our girls ought to be extremely strong this year. Our team consists of about somewhere between 45 and 50 this year. We're starting practices right now and they last quite a long time. We start about 3 o'clock and they usually last till dark, about 9 o'clock. We do a lot of events. We do 9 events, so it takes a while to get through everybody. We plan to put on great practices, long practices and get to every student."
The Texas Tech rodeo team will compete in ten rodeos throughout the school year. Both the men's and women's teams will be competeing for regional titles as well as a chance to represent their university at the college national finals rodeo next summer.
"We go to ten rodeos, and they're in the Southwest region," Berry said. "Our first rodeo is at Portales through Eastern New Mexico, our next one will be at Vernon College, then we go to Frank Phillips College, back to Texas Tech, and then to Sul Ross State University for our fall schedule."
And hosting one of the Southwest region rodeos here at home will be a big challenge, too. Berry and team members are already planning ahead. But any and all support from the community is appreciated. The rodeo will cost the team about $30,000 to host.
"We need all kinds of support from the community. The businesses have been great, we're hoping to expand on that," Berry said. "We have a great alumni group, so they're going to come in and have their alumni rodeo at the same time, that will be Saturday and Sunday, so we're hoping for a big turnout for that."
When Berry isn't leading a practice or traveling with the team to competitions, he's focusing on the long term goals of the Texas Tech rodeo team. And he knows that Lubbock is exactly where he is supposed to be.
"We're building a lot of new facilities. We're building a new barn, we're doing some of that," Berry said. "Our big goals right now are to get all the kids on board to get hopefully to the college finals again. Texas Tech has been very fortunate to get to the college finals every year, and I hope to continue that success."
The Texas Tech college rodeo and alumni rodeo will take place in just over a month, October 17 through 19 to be exact. So be sure to plan ahead to go out and show your support as well as give the new Texas Tech rodeo coach Philip Berry a great big Red Raider welcome.