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From the Great Lakes to the Sunshine State: Bareback Riding champion Tim O’Connell

Tim O'Connell

From the Great Lakes to the Sunshine State: Bareback Riding champion Tim O’Connell

Having earned several major career titles such as 2012 Permit Holder of the Year, 2013 Resistol Rookie of the Year, 2015 College National Champion, 3x Great Lakes Circuit Champion, and now 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Champion in bareback riding, 24-year-old Tim O’Connell, originally from Zwingle, Iowa, is making quite the name for himself in the professional sport of rodeo. His career is off to a wonderful and promising start!

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Last fall, things looked a little different, though. Tim struggled with a broken riding hand, not only injuring it once, but re-breaking the same hand about a month after the original incident. He didn’t let that hold him back, but as soon as he qualified for the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, he took the month of October off… not only to let his hand heal, but also to get married! That’s right… Mr. Tim O’Connell married his sweetheart, Sami O’Connell, just two weeks before the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in November.

Tim says he was nervous going into his Circuit Finals because he didn’t feel as prepared as he would have liked. As the rodeo came around, he became even more nervous he wouldn’t qualify for the RNCFR due to the bucking horses he seemed to draw… “The bottom end of the pen,” a direct quote from Tim. Keep in mind, in bareback riding, both the cowboy and the horse make up the total score. The goal is to get the highest score to advance, so drawing a good horse is important.

Tim stepped up his training once he knew he was officially headed to the RNCFR in Kissimmee. He worked closely with a personal trainer on weightlifting and doing some CrossFit, both of which can help a cowboy ride a bucking horse better. “If you are prepared during the week, you’ll be prepared on the weekend. You have to be ready… both mentally and physically ready. You can never stop learning. When you think you’re at the top, you are in trouble,” Tim says of his training.

Not only does Tim work hard on his own training, but he also loves to give back. He helps train up-and-comers at rodeo schools. Cervi Championship Pro Rodeo provides livestock and puts on three major rodeo schools a year, called Ace High Roughstock Academy. These take place in Odessa, Texas, Curtis, Nebraska, and Artesia, New Mexico. These rodeo schools are free for kids to attend. Tim works as an instructor to help teach kids riding techniques, training methods, and offers them experiences they otherwise may not receive.

Speaking of giving back… Tim loves coming to Kissimmee not only to compete, but also for the opportunity to visit Give Kids the World each year. This is an event the RNCFR Committee helps organize for contestants to get involved in our community.

“It’s the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo that helped give me a name and put me on the map,” Tim says. The RNCFR gives contestants the chance to compete with some of the best in the world for a big reward. Winning a national title at the RNCFR can help create a nice path to the Wrangler National Finals.

Tim O'Connell RAM National Circuit Finals champion in bareback riding Tim O'Connell

When asked if he enjoyed his experience in Kissimmee this year, Tim shared, “You cannot get a better experience than what I had down there. I showed up to win and managed to accomplish my goal.” He said it’s nice competing indoors and never having to worry about arena conditions, it’s cheap to fly into Kissimmee, and it’s not too hot in April. (We swear, we didn’t pay him to say this stuff! He earned his keep here in Central Florida!)

Congratulations, Tim, on becoming the 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Bareback Riding Champion!

Did you know? Tim O’Connell loves playing cards. He once played a game of Euchre for 9 hours and didn’t even realize it!

6 RAM National Circuit Finals champion in bareback riding Tim O'Connell

135 Days 14 Hours 35 Minutes 32 Seconds to the RNCFR!
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135 Days 14 Hours 35 Minutes 32 Seconds to the RNCFR!
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