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San Angelo - For Dr. Don Topliff, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Angelo State, the announcement of Casey Sisk as the first coach for the new ASU rodeo program was years in the making.
“Talk about a small world. I was the Dean of Agriculture Science and Engineering at West Texas A&M some fifteen years ago, and the President of the university at that time told me that I was going to take over the rodeo program, which had been struggling for some time. One of the first students there was a guy named Casey Sisk. Our coach left the university, and Casey followed him to Tarleton to finish his collegiate rodeo career.”
The coach he followed is legendary rodeo coach Mark Eakin who has built a powerhouse in Stephenville and has mentored Sisk, even asking Sisk to serve as his associate rodeo coach at Tarleton in 2022.
When asked about Eakin’s influence on him, Sisk said, “Well, he was my coach at WT, and we hit it off. We became friends too, and I owe a bunch to him. He's helped me tremendously, not just with college rodeo but in life in general. He's just been a really good friend. He's a great dude.”
There hasn’t been a rodeo program at Angelo State since the early sixties when it was San Angelo College, even though it existed as a club sport in the early 80s. Its time as a club sport ended, however, when Danny Cooper, a rodeo student from Bronte, passed away after being kicked in the chest by a bull at the San Angelo Rodeo Fairgrounds in 1980.
It has taken years for the ASU community to consider adding rodeo as a sport, and it is seen as the right move, given San Angelo’s status as one of the best rodeo towns.
It is an advantage Sisk hopes to use in recruiting athletes for the Rams when they compete in the Southwest Region of the NIRA, “Well, I think it's gonna have a tremendous impact on it. Because everybody knows about the pro rodeo here, the college rodeo athletes will feed right into it. Many of our college rodeo athletes already have their PRCA cards so they will be here. And I think it's going to help all parties involved. I think, you know, whatever we can do to help those guys. Wherever we can fill in, that's what we'll do.”
Sisk also mentioned using the Bly Arena as another advantage for ASU by noting that his previous schools had outdoor practice facilities. In contrast, the Bly Arena is an indoor arena, “For a practice facility, it is pretty nice. It is going to fit our program perfectly. I think it’ll be great.”
Finally, when asked what success will look like for the new program, Sisk said,” I think just our first year; I mean, we’re already there—just having the program. You know, I'd say if we can add 10-15 student-athletes, that would be great; the sky's the limit. And I expect great things by year two. By year two, I think we'll be a contender.”
Casey Sisk Fast Facts
Hometown: Corona, N.M.
Previous Job: Assistant Coach at Tarleton State since 2022. Before, he owned and operated CS Quarter Horses & Campstool Outfitters in Muleshoe.
Rodeo experience: Sisk is an eight-time PRCA Turquoise Circuit Finalist in saddle bronc riding and steer roping, was the 2013 PRCA Turquoise Circuit Finals Champion Steer Roper, and qualified for the 2014 National Circuit Finals in steer roping. At the collegiate level, he was the 2003 New Mexico Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year, the 2005 CNFR Reserve National Champion Bull Rider and the 2005 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Central Plains Region Champion Bull Rider. He has also worked as a PRCA and NIRA pickup man and as a horse trainer for PRCA cowboy, Brent Lewis.
More on the ASU Rodeo team
The ASU Rodeo Team will compete in the NIRA Southwest Region. Men will compete in saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping. Women will compete in barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping. The Southwest Region is currently made up of 17 rodeo teams at colleges and universities in Texas and New Mexico, including about 750 student competitors.