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Rodeo Hall of Famer Tapped to Build BVU Team

September 16, 2020 12:44pm

Marty Barnes built a career in rodeo, as a competitor and a business owner providing bulls and bucking horses for events across the U.S.

Barnes now seeks to build a rodeo team as coach of the new Buena Vista University rodeo team.

“It’s a great opportunity to build a rodeo program at BVU,” says Barnes, who has directed his daughters, Micah Barnes, a 2020 BVU graduate, and Mary Barnes, a fourth-year BVU student, in rodeo competitions for the Beavers. “I’ve been coaching competitors in the sport on an unofficial basis for 25 years. I also spent 25 years competing in professional rodeo. Now, I get the chance to put all that experience and knowledge to work in getting student-athletes at BVU to excel in something we’re passionate about.”

Barnes, who owns and operates Barnes PRCA Rodeo Company, will make the Barnes Ranch near Peterson available for practice sessions, as well as providing space for students to house their horses.  The ranch is about 30 miles northwest of Storm Lake in the heart of the Little Sioux River Valley, a region known for its colorful bluffs and tranquility.

“We have 300 acres here for students to work their horses,” says Barnes. “This will be a place where we’ll work to improve on our rodeo skills. It’s also a place where students can come ride and relax as their horse gets exercise.”

The rodeo program is an outgrowth of BVU’s new Agriculture Institute, a focused-growth strategic initiative led by business and science professors, including Landon Sullivan, Instructor of Animal Science, and a former rodeo competitor who coached rodeo teams at the collegiate level for nearly a decade.

“Buena Vista University recognizes that many passionate and active agriculture students participate in rodeo and/or livestock showing and hiring coach Marty Barnes is a huge step in the right direction for attracting those students,” says Sullivan, who keeps a roping dummy outside his office, both as a conversation piece and a piece of equipment students may use when they practice.

“If the interest in campus is any indication, rodeo is going to continue to surge,” Sullivan says. “It may well become another way in which people across the country come to identify BVU.”

“Not many colleges have such a well-known and widely respected coach for rodeo as we do with Marty Barnes,” says Rich Crow, Director for BVU’s Agriculture Institute. “Marty’s connections at the professional level to the high school level (Barnes is a member of the Iowa High School Rodeo Hall of Fame) will be a benefit for our students who seek to learn more about rodeo competition.”

BVU will compete in the Great Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association with about half of the competitions occurring within a 200-mile radius of Storm Lake.

Mary Barnes, a business major, will compete this fall for the Beavers. Barnes has also been a member of the women’s basketball team.

Caleb Eggleston, a freshman biomedical sciences major from Cook, Neb., will wrestle for the Beavers while competing in collegiate rodeo.

“The beauty of what we’ve got at BVU is the fact students can compete in rodeo while still participating in other team activities if they desire,” Marty Barnes says. “Those unique opportunities for students have me excited about building this program while building upon other team successes and academic accomplishments BVU enjoys.”

BVU rodeo competitors may also keep their horse(s) just north of the Storm Lake city limits at yet another new development for the University in its Agricultural Experiment Station, owned and operated by Mike and Dana Christen.

“The Ag Experiment Station is certainly close enough for a rodeo team member to be able to easily conduct their daily chores with their horse,” Crow says.

“So not only does BVU have a lake for students to use for their recreational purposes, the University also has the Ag Experiment Station and access to our ranch with all kinds of stock for various skill levels,” Barnes says. “We can’t wait to help showcase this sport and our student-athletes at the same time.”