Jack Wright is a young saddle bronc cowboy that many expect to see on the rodeo circuit for years to come. But what they don’t know is that his family’s legacy goes back for three generations. Not many people can say that their grandfather rode in the RCA before it was even the PRCA. But Jack can.
Jack’s dad retired from the PRCA with his gold card after more than 20 years, and numerous Prairie and Southeastern circuit finals qualifications; all after winning the National Intercollegiate Saddle Bronc Championship. Jack already shares one title with dear old dad: the Texas High School Rodeo Association State Saddle Bronc Riding Champion, and would like to add the college title as well. From an outsider looking in, you might think, “So what? It’s a youth rodeo buckle.” Stop right there. It’s not just any youth rodeo buckle. THSRA kids are as salty as they come and boast many senior athletes that compete in the professional ranks at the same time that they’re competing in the youth organization.
During his youth rodeo career though, Jack had what many would consider a major setback. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita came through Louisiana and left their mark on his home, school and Jack’s family. Being labeled as those “hurricane kids” with donated school supplies and thrift shop clothes, he and his sister were forced to attend a new school and leave the only friends and home they’d known. He lost his beloved grandfather to multiple myeloma during Katrina, and his grandma losing her home to Rita two weeks later, took a mighty toll on little Jack. His mom and dad’s divorce a year later only added more turmoil. After Jack, his sister and little brother moved with their mom to her family’s ranch a couple hours north of the south Louisiana Ranch he had grown up on, Jack was a little boy with a broken heart, on a mission to succeed, although not sure how or at what. At his new school he excelled in basketball and football. He was even primed to become the high school quarterback, but his rodeo roots ran too deep, and the Bronc riding genes of his dad and grandfather ran deeper. Jack begged his mom to finish high school by homeschool so he could devote more time to training, practicing, working out, and devoting himself to becoming a student of the game. When he wasn’t helping to take care of the family ranch, and keeping up with class work, he was spending time with some of the best in the business. He worked with McNeese Rodeo Coach Justin Browning, his dad of course, and got on every horse he could find. Many long nights were spent with mom bargaining over spur-board time in the garage and driving the hour south to McNeese twice a week to work out and get on practice horses. But his persistence usually won her over, (or wore her out). He credits the DeMoss Brothers as his biggest mentors, and spent a lot of time questioning, listening, and learning from both Cody and Heath. He weathered a couple serious injuries during this time, breaking his hand in the chute in Abilene his junior year, and suffering a break to his shoulder in Amarillo a month later, but the time out allowed him to rest his body, heal, grow and develop more, and come back stronger than ever. In his senior year of high school, he won the same title that his dad had won 37 years before him.
Jack says, “After winning the state title I decided to go to school at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. After just one year at SWOSU, my bronc riding had progressed tremendously. Under the coaching of former pro bull rider Mike Visnieski, and assistant coach NFR saddle Bronc rider Tyrell Larson, I’ve been on the pro circuit for just one year and I’m currently sitting top eight in the Prairie Circuit.”
When asked about the pro rodeo circuit, Jack says it levels up in every way. The stock is better. The talent is better. The rodeos are better. And it has in turn made him better and forced him to level up as well. The Pendleton Roundup and the Falkland Stampede in British Columbia are two major rodeos on Jack’s bucket list. He says, “There’s so much history behind those two rodeos. Not many people walk around with a Pendleton or Falkland buckle on, I want to be one of those people.”
There’s a slightly hidden side to the pro circuit though that isn’t always thought of immediately. Being on the rodeo trail is a business and has to be run like one. Jack says, “It always matters who you’re talking to and shaking hands with. My grandad used to say, you speak to the janitor the same way you speak to the CEO, with respect!” He said no matter how many titles we won or how many great things any of us achieved, his real pride came from people telling him how polite and respectful we were. You never know who or when or why God places people in your path. The last thing you want to do is make a bad first impression because you misjudged someone. That’s something that is normally learned the hard way and at a much older age, but Jack keeps it on his mind at all times.
With a mindset like that, it’s no surprise that the young cowboy already has a Plan B in mind for the days when his body won’t let him ride bucking horses anymore. Along with partnering with Wing Rodeo Company and Hi-Lo Rodeo Company to raise bucking horses, Jack is dead-set on getting his degree in Public Relations. He wants to use his degree to work in none other than the western industry as possibly a brand manager and do something to help other cowboys make their way. It takes a special kind of person to let an industry beat your body up to a point of no return only to turn back around and devote your life to it yet again.
“There have been so many people behind me believing in this dream of mine from day one. After my mom of course, Vexil was there next. There are so many people who have been there for me, stood by me in the valleys and on the mountains. I am where I am because of them all and I hope my life and career will show the gratitude I have in my heart for every single person who encouraged me and believe with me that I will succeed. I have some big boots to fill, but they fit a little better every day.”
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Article by Katie Armstrong @thekatielynn