In the sport of rodeo, there is nobody more experienced or passionate than Otero Junior College (OJC) Head Rodeo Coach Linsay Sumpter; and when it comes to her athletes, she is the driving force that spurs them on to greatness. In April, Sumpter joined the ranks of the top college rodeo coaches in the nation.
Raised in Wheatland, California, Linsay grew up with rodeo in her blood. She is the granddaughter of ProRodeo Hall of Famer and legendary Stock Contractor Cotton Rosser. Linsay's parents, Lee and Bonnie Rosser, are also well-known in the rodeo industry as event producers and stock contractors.
Throughout her childhood, Linsay performed in trick riding and her grandfather's legendary opening ceremonies. At the age of six, she carried the flag during the grand opening of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
Linsay was successful throughout her high school rodeo career and went on to compete for California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly).
Today she is the wife of six-time WNFR bull-dogger, Wade Sumpter, and they are the proud parents of two boys.
When OJC reinstated their rodeo program in 2009, they brought Sumpter on board as head coach. Being one of the few female college rodeo coaches in the nation, Linsay is molding young lives and making a difference in the sport of rodeo.
With her strong connections in the western world and the support of OJC administrators and the Arkansas Valley community, Linsay was able to overcome the challenges of building a rodeo program from the ground up.
"I had only recently moved to Colorado when I was hired, so I was fresh off the boat. I didn't know a lot of local people yet, but the college staff, community members, and Wade and I's rodeo contacts were instrumental in the reinstatement process," claims Sumpter.
Linsay took over the program in June 2009, and by August, the college had 13 athletes on its inaugural roster. Currently, the OJC Rattler rodeo team attracts between 25-35 students from numerous states every year.
She believes in providing opportunities for every student to explore new events, master their skills, and pursue the sport of rodeo.
"If one of my rough stock guys wants to learn how to rope, I will give him the opportunity and resources to do so because that mentality is good for my team and the sport in general," says Linsay.
OJC is also one of the few college rodeo programs that are committed to providing bucking stock for athletes to practice on. "Cowboys are a dying breed and when it comes down to it, if you don't have that avenue for students to get on practice stock then they're not going to do it at a rodeo," explains Sumpter. "I feel like if you don't have rough stock in your program, then you don't have a rodeo program, you have a timed event program."
According to Gary Addington, OJC's Athletic Director, Linsay was also instrumental in the addition of the new bucking chutes at the rodeo grounds in La Junta, CO. this spring. "This project was a huge undertaking, but one that reflects her innovation and tenacity," says Addington.
When it comes to grit, Linsay has more than her share. "This is a physically demanding job. I rope, tie goats, work the roping chute, load stock, and flank rough stock animals. Luckily, God didn't make me a petite individual," she says with a laugh. "I am strong and built for physical labor, which has helped me be successful in this role."
Outside of the arena, Linsay shows her athletes a softer side. "I know what it's like to be a student hours away from home, so if a student is sick I am going to get them to the doctor, or if their truck breaks down I am going to go get them," she explains.
With her influence, several of OJC's current and alumni athletes have progressed to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) and bull-dogger, Baylor Roche, has advanced to the WNFR three times.
In April, Linsay's hard work and dedication to the sport was recognized by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). She was crowned the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) Coach of the Year by her colleagues and peers.
Coaches from 11 regions of the NIRA receive the regional coach of the year award through nominations and voting. The top regional coaches are then eligible for the national award at the CNFR in June.
NIRA officials can't say for sure, but they claim it's a strong possibility that Linsay is the first female coach ever to win the award in the CRMR.
"Linsay has a tremendous work ethic, and she is very loyal and dedicated to Otero Junior College. She devotes herself to the needs of her team both in the classroom and in the arena. It is no surprise she received the Rocky Mountain Coach of the Year this past season. This is an incredible accomplishment and one that is very well deserved," remarks Addington.
Though proud of her monumental accomplishment Linsay remains humble, and the success of her students is what she values the most. Every day she strives to build champions, both in the sport of rodeo and in the arena of life.
Stay up-to-date with Linsay and the Rattlers by following Otero Junior College Rodeo on Facebook, or by visiting Otero Junior College's website.