Lyman named Univesity of Great Falls rodeo coach
Dick Lyman, a well known Montana rodeo producer and pickup man, was named this month as the head coach of the new University of Great Falls rodeo program.
It’s a perfect fit for the lifelong Great Falls resident.
Lyman has been part of the rodeo world since he was a boy growing up with his mother and step father, Don Jacobs, on the ranch that is headquarters for the Jacobs Livestock Rodeo Company. After helping Jacobs produce rodeos for years, Lyman eventually took over the day-to-day management of the busy contracting business that stages rodeos throughout the state. Along with coordinating the overall rodeo and rough stock, he has also served as a pickup man for years. In fact, he received the Northern Rodeo Association’s award as Pickup Man of the Year on 14 different occasions.
The new coach’s experience wasn’t all behind the chutes. In high school, he tied calves, dogged steers and team roped and then continued on the collegiate level at Montana State University from 1973 to 1977. Lyman, standing 6-foot-4-inches and weighing over 275 pounds, was a standout defensive tackle football player for MSU who ended up as an All-American during his senior year.
Lyman has another family member who is a rodeo standout. His younger brother Rod Lyman of Victor, MT is a 16 time NFR finalists, won the Dodge National Circuit Finals steer wrestling title in 1996 and won the Big Sky Circuit steer wrestling title four different times as well as capturing the all-around Big Sky circuit buckle in 1995. He also served as a PRCA board member for several years.
“I always wanted the opportunity to coach college kids,” Lyman said. “It fits in with everything I do and it’s my passion.”
Working with young people who are interested in rodeo is not a new venture for the 55-year-old graduate of Great Falls High School.
Dick and his wife Terrie Jo have been married for 33 years, and during that time, they have always had kids living with them. In addition to their four girls – Lacey, Fanci, Tiffany and Brittney – the Lymans managed to have at least one additional young person staying with them as part of the ranching and stock contracting operation.
“We always had younger kids at our camp and we enjoyed teaching them what life is about, and our ranching and rodeo heritage to help them develop as young adults,” he said. “The good Lord has blessed me with good people around me with my family and extended family and they are all excited about this project. After all, rodeo is family oriented and in most cases all the kids going down the road do it as a family.”
In recognition of his contribution to rodeo, Lyman received the Calvin Bohleen Award this January at the PRC Circuit Finals in Great Falls. He was nominated by Saddle bronc rider Shane Moran and tie down and team roper Brant Davis because he had positively impacted their lives both inside and outside of the arena.
“A few years ago, nine kids went to the circuit finals that had started in my backyards,” he noted.
The next step for Lyman at the University of Great Falls is to put together a realistic budget, develop a viable program and then to begin recruiting collegiate contestants. As a base, there are already two rodeo contestants enrolled at the university. They are Ross Mossure of Augusta, MT and Durgan Watson, a barrel racer from Geyser, MT.
The University of Great Falls is joining a dozen other schools in the Big Sky Region.
Before taking the position, Lyman sat down with the president of the university and other officials to make sure the financial support was present to get started.
“Most ventures fail because they don’t have enough funding to carry through with the plans so I worked with the school officials to see what resources we had to work with,” he said.
Along with sound support from the university, Lyman is beginning the program with the blessing of the greater Great Falls community.
Although the formal program won’t start until next fall, Lyman plans on attending to some rodeos with the two competing contestants during the spring college season.
“We have had a lot of interest in the last few days and there are kids calling from around the region that are interested in the program at Great Falls,” he said. “There is some really good talent from the Great Falls area so there is a really good opportunity to bring up some good kids.”
Lyman has a good way of searching for future college talent. Since Lyman produces many summer Northern Rodeo Association rodeos for Jacobs Livestock Rodeo Company, he has the chance to watch many of the top young contestants from the high school ranks while they are competing during the summer months.
He also plans on keeping in touch with the Montana High School Rodeo events this spring.
When the program gets into gear, he plans on staging rough stock clinics in conjunction with the university and wants to open them up to high school students to help them develop their skills.
“I am a firm believer in clinics,” he said. “When you can spend a few hundred and get sound pointers from the experienced guys it gives you a great advantage to help your career.”
At this point, Lyman already has the King Arena east of Great Falls and the JS Arena at Vaughn to use for clinics and practice.
Lyman is planning to hold Big Sky Region Rodeo in the Great Falls area once the program gets into gear.
Additional rodeos in the Big Sky Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association could help the contestants in the region to obtain more experience so they can be competitive with the students from the Southwest who hold events every weekend through the winter months.
One challenge for Lyman is to also operate Lyman Outfitting which is based each fall in the White Sulphur Springs area. He plans on having his daughter, Brittany, coordinate the early season hunting camp since she has already been handling the cooking and other chores at the camp for three years.
With Lyman’s extended family it will all fall together.
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