Eight-time world champion visits CSC students
A cool spring night in Chadron played host to eight- time world champion roper Fred Whitfield, Thursday, with speaking about his career and his new book, “Gold Buckles Don’t Lie: The Untold Tale of Fred Whitfield.”
The evening began with a meet-and-greet with Whitfield in the Student Center Ballroom. During the meet-and-greet, Whitfield signed numerous autographs and took pictures with fans. Seats in the Student Center Ballroom at CSC filled quickly, and more seating had to be added to accommodate the 400 people who gathered to hear his story.
“I’m not a world-class speaker,” Whitfield said, “but I am a world-class roper.”
Whitfield’s speech began with his childhood, where he came from a broken home, poor, with an alcoholic father. Despite his hardships, Whitfield described how he surrounded himself with the right people, and “took the initiative to not have a pity party every day.” He shared that, as an amateur roper, he never thought that he was meant to be a world champion, but “people along the way helped out.”
“Talking about my hidden past lifts weight off of my shoulders,” Whitfield said.
A common theme in Whitfield’s presentation was his commitment to being 100 percent honest in his life.
He admitted that he suffered hardships in life, but urged the crowd to let them go. Whitfield reconciled his relationship with his father, who was diagnosed with throat cancer, a few years ago, and said that he wishes his father was around during his prime.
Whitfield’s interest in rodeo began when he turned out calves for “the rich kid across the road.” Whitfield shared his dream of riding a horse, which he raised himself, at a National Finals Rodeo. He said that he practices with his horses every morning to make sure they are on point. According to prorodeo.com, Whitfield currently ranks sixth in the Texas circuit standings for tie-down roping.
Even he has a very successful career at the pro-rodeo level, and make several appearances at the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas, Whitfield claims that he was more successful at the smaller rodeos compared to the larger ones.
When asked about money in the rodeo world, Whitfield said that he feels like rodeo competitors are not paid deserving wages at all levels, especially for the danger level the sport possesses. He has earned about $3,000,000 in his 24 year career. He expressed that he is compared to Tiger Woods unfairly due to the discrepancy in monetary earnings between the two athletes. Whitfield also said that rodeo is kept down by sposor exclusivity; his idea to remedy this is to let sponsors compete by bidding on who gets to sponsor the next big rodeo event.
Whitfield offered advice to the attendees from his own experiences. He said that, when competing in anything, only worry about what you can control, instead of worrying about your competition. He also encouraged attendees to “work their tails off every day” in order to reach goals.
“I never thought I was born to be an eight-time world champion, but it happened with hard work and the people in my life who helped me along the way,” he said.
To parents, Whitfield described the importance of keeping pressure off of their children. He said that he does not want his kids to compete in rodeo unless they choose to do it themselves. He stresses the importance of his children forming their own identities rather than being Fred Whitfield’s daughters.
When asked what the key to his success was, Whitfield said, “Consistency. If you stay consistent, you will eventually beat the other guys. Work your tail off to become well rounded in your event, in every aspect. Eventually you will start beating the other competitors.”
“Don’t worry about who is there, worry about what you can control. If you are dedicated enough, and work hard enough, you’ll be rewarded,” he said.
A standing ovation greeted Whitfield as he finished his presentation. Fans lined up and waited for upwards of an hour to get autographs, a copy of the book, and a picture with Whitfield.
Whitfield’s advice to students at CSC? “Never give up on your dreams, no matter how hard they are. Always work hard, and never make excuses. At the end of the day, be proud of your efforts.”