Left: From left, Monty Phillips and Scott Byrne instructing at the 2019 Bull riding/Bullfighting School in Vermilion.
Right: From left, participants Cale Simanton, and Kaydunn Henry at the 2019 Johansen Bull riding/Bullfighting School in Vermilion on February 10.
Young athletes battled to improve their skills at the 27th Annual Johansen Bull riding - Bullfighting School held at Lakeland College in Vermilion from February 8 - 10.
The school was aimed at having industry professionals teach the basics, and put athletes on the right course to becoming successful; not just in bull riding and bullfighting, but in all areas of life. Bruce Johansen along with Scott Schiffner, Jesse Torkelson, Todd Chotowetz, Monty Phillips, and Scott Byrne instructed the school. Participants received one-on-one coaching and after each ride were able to watch instant replays to see exactly what things they had done well or could try to do differently. Approximately 30 participants travelled from all over Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as well as one from Montana.
Bullfighting participant, Cale Simanton from Foremost, Alberta attended for his second time this year and said, “I like the sport for the adrenaline rush and the opportunity to help everyone out, and help the cowboys when they are down. At this school, they are really hands on when explaining everything and the instant replay all weekend is really beneficial.”
Bull riding participant from Raymond, Alberta, Kaydunn Henry, said that he got into the sport because he grew up around it.
“I got hooked on it and picked this school because I grew up around Scott and Jesse and they are great role models and teachers,” said Henry.
Instructor, Monty Phillips noted that there were a lot of repeat students and said, “Everyone definitely progressed. It’s very important for the industry to grow by finding new athletes to keep the sports of bull riding and bullfighting alive.”
In past years, instructor Scott Byrne suggested participants look at their career seriously and like a business, and said, “You are representing a sport and culture. Be proud of what you do. Don’t be in a hurry to go up too fast.”
Instructor Scott Schiffner suggested that bull riders and bullfighters surround themselves with good people; people better than themselves to encourage growth. He also noted the importance of keeping their equipment and their fitness in good condition to avoid injury.
In previous years, Schiffner said, “Bull riding is truly an individual sport. We lose 50 per cent of the time, so we are always overcoming adversity, but there’s nothing more fulfilling than when you are successful! The Champion is in you; you’ve got to pull it out. Make no mistake; you can’t just believe it; you have to take your will, drive, and desire and put it in motion.”