Rather than scoring touchdowns and shooting three-pointers, Weber State’s own Braxten Nielsen now spends his days competing as a bareback rider in the college rodeo scene. Nielsen recently tied for 10th place in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, W.Y.
While he competed on behalf of Weber State in the rodeo, Nielsen had originally hoped to play sports such as football, basketball or baseball at the collegiate level. Despite that, for some context, he is already ranked fifth nationally in bareback riding, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I knew that being a rodeo cowboy and riding bucking horses is what I wanted to do and make a career of the first time I got on a bareback horse,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen credits mentor Kaycee Feild in his introduction to bareback riding, even calling him the “Michael Jordan or LeBron James of bareback riding.”
After serving an LDS Mission in Morristown, N.J., Nielsen met the Feild brothers Shad and Kaycee and gained interest in the sport. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Nielsen then proceeded to quit his job and focus on the sport full time. Referencing the natural way in which he took to the sport, Feild remarks that Nielsen’s transition from football and basketball did not take much time at all.
Being accustomed to these sports in his younger years, Nielsen notices one main difference: the individualistic aspect of the sport as opposed to the “team” mentality. “The only difference that I found from playing team sports and bareback riding is it’s all on me. You can’t rely on anyone else while you’re out in the arena and the spotlight is on you; it’s just you,” said Nielsen.
As for his favorite aspects of the sport and the rodeo scene, Nielsen decided on the total adrenaline rush it brings, as well as the family atmosphere of the rodeo. “The atmosphere at the rodeos is electric and upbeat, even when you’re not doing good it’s still a positive experience.” Nielsen finished by saying that the rodeo is not merely a sport, but rather a lifestyle.
Studying business communication at Weber State, this talented Wildcat will continue to compete while also representing the university, as well as his home state of Utah.
Nielsen readily admits that this is his passion, and it’s not difficult to see why.
“I know it’s only eight seconds, but that eight seconds is more intense than four quarters of any sport I have played.”