Rodeo in GCCC assistant's blood

3/4/2013

Baker enjoying first season as assistant for rodeo team.

Baker enjoying first season as assistant for rodeo team.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

In his first year as the Garden City Community College's assistant rodeo coach, Brock Baker is having the time of his life while sharing some of his rodeo experience with the team.

"Helping the kids, seeing them do better, seeing them improve, that's a good day," Baker said.

Sophomore Shelby Leonhard said Baker played a big role in getting her through a rough patch.

"I blew out my knee this summer, and if it weren't for Brock at practice, I probably wouldn't be back in it," she said, adding that it was his encouragement that helped her through. "It's just tough, mentally."

Baker started July 9, 2012, filling a vacancy made when the former assistant coach left to take a head coaching position.

"So that opportunity opened up, and it worked out for everybody. It was good timing," he said.

Prior to taking the position, Baker said he liked helping out because he thinks the rodeo program is a good cause.

"I've been around. I went to school here, and then I went to K-State and finished up there," he said. "I've enjoyed coming and watching them, being around, helping with the stuff as much as I can."

Baker grew up in and around rodeos.

"Yeah, Dad, he rodeoed. He went to Garden, and he rode bareback horses and bulldogged, so it's just what I grew up doing," he said. "My sister and I, growing up, we rodeoed from probably 8 years old. I started rodeoing and stuck with it. I mostly team rope and bulldog."

Prior to taking the position, Baker was running cattle. And prior to that, he worked for his parents, Bob and Jolene Baker, who own Baker Boot Co.

He and his wife, Jennifer Baker, have about 30 head of cattle south of Garden City, but because of his current schedule, Jennifer has had to pick up a lot of the slack.

"She helps take care of all the cows, and she gets to haul water. She does as much out there as I do, if not more, anymore. She's done a lot more the last few weeks. (The rodeo team) went to K-State last week, and this week's been really hectic, and we've got Fort Scot next week, so I think she's ready to — she might be ready to see me again, by the time this is over with," he said, laughing.

Their two sons, 5-year-old Trell and 2-year-old Colt, also have the cowboy gene.

"They each have a pony, and they like it — Cort especially. Trell likes it quite a bit, but Cort loves it," Baker said.

As for coaching, Baker said his favorite part is sharing his knowledge with the rodeo team.

"It's fun. It's a great job. I love helping the kids and trying to make them better. I like winning. I don't like to lose. We want to make them as good as we can, so we can go win," he said.

GCCC head rodeo coach Jim Boy Hash relied on Baker during this weekend's home rodeo at the Horse Palace arena.

"Jim Boy's had lots of kids — the past two years, the girls' teams have made it to college finals, so he knows how to win and I want to keep it up and do some more," Baker said.

He said that involvement in rodeo doesn't stop at the arena.

"With rodeo, just like Shelby taking care of her horse right there, you've got to take care of your horse, you've got to feed your horse twice a day, you've got to keep it exercised and there's lots of little stuff behind the scenes," he said. "If they own the livestock, it's an expense. These kids, they put up their own money to come play. It's an expensive sport, and it's a lot of work. But I think by spending their own money on it, they work harder at it sometimes."

Leonhard, who was taking care of her horse, Mack, said that Baker has done a lot for the rodeo program as a whole.

"Brock has done so much for us. He got us a new chute in there. He got us all new bareback and bronc riding pads. He works his butt off all the time. He's always at practice, helps us at practice and gives us advice," she said.

Baker said that getting those items was all a part of an attempt by the college, which purchased the Horse Palace from the county last year, to make some improvements to the facility.

"With the college buying the building, they want to make some upgrades and that was some of the stuff that we felt like was a way to do some improvements and try to make it a little better for everybody," Baker said.

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