Feature Photo by Crystal Anderson of Crystal Kodak Moments
UW cowboy Donny Proffit has dominated the Central Rocky Mountain Region in college rodeo in the bareback riding for the past four years. Now in 2023, Proffit has his sights set on a new goal, making the NFR and pro-rodeoing.
Proffit, originally from Kemmerer, Wyoming, has been a leading figure on the UW Rodeo team for some time. At the collegiate level, Donny Proffit is a 4x CNFR qualifier and fresh off placing in multiple rounds and the average at the CNFR.
2023 has proved to be the most logistically challenging year for Proffit in his bareback riding career so far, as he juggled pro-rodeoing and college rodeoing this year.
“It’s been hard trying to balance school and college rodeo. I had to fly out of Laramie a bunch, talk to a lot of professors about what I was doing, and schedule in the college rodeos too,” said Donny.
Donny has had some success at the big shows and is hoping to build to his impressive list of wins.
“In San Antonio, I split a round win with Kaycee Field. I won second in Guymon, Oklahoma, and have placed here and there throughout the season,” continued Donny.
Crystal Amen Photography
Donny’s biggest career win thus far happened at the Red Bluff Round-Up this spring. Donny drew the iconic “Virgil” of C5 rodeo company and spurred him for 90 points in front of a sold-out crowd. Not only did this ride win the rodeo, but Donny also set a new arena record at the Red Bluff Round-Up.
Heading to places like Texas and California has been an experience for Donny, who had never previously been to the state of Texas before the winter run.
“I’d never really been out to Texas or California before, so to be able to drive there and take all sorts of different highways and routes, and to experience all of these places for the first time has been really cool.”
This isn’t the first time Donny’s had to multi-task.
Not only is Donny an extremely talented cowboy, but he also dominated in wrestling throughout high school and into college. During Donny’s first year at UW, he was on both a rodeo and wrestling scholarship.
“Being on a wrestling team, especially at a D1 school was challenging… I loved it but I felt like I couldn’t really get great at either sport if I continued to do both, so I chose to strictly rodeo from that year on,” said Proffit.
Although he is now retired from wrestling, Proffit mentions that certain wrestling ideologies have helped him learn to be such a fierce competitor in the arena.
“Heath Ford helped me with this, but something I took from wrestling and transferred over to rodeo was to “embrace the fight”. When I was able to apply that saying to the bareback riding, it helped my riding tremendously,” explained Proffit.
As Proffit focuses on his futures goals and ambitions, he credits National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) and college rodeo for helping give him a place to grow his skills and improve for the past four years.
“I wasn’t ready to really go pro-rodeo. I needed college rodeo. I needed that practice; I needed the time to learn to compete.”
Through college rodeo Proffit has made connections he’s carrying with him into his professional career. His traveling partner Nick Pelke is a fellow bareback rider Donny met at the CNFR. Proffit’s relationship with his now sponsor, JCA Companies, was also a pathway built through his time as a NIRA athlete, competing for UW.
“If I could go back, I’d do the same thing again. I would recommend college rodeo first for anyone. It grew me as a rider and as a person,” Proffit said.
Looking forward, Donny plans on rodeoing full time. In the fall, Donny only has two more classes to complete before receiving his agricultural communications degree from the University of Wyoming. The future looks bright for Donny, and he has full intentions of someday representing Wyoming at the NFR.
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