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CLARENDON, Texas â€“ Bret Franks is a cowboy.
For the past two years, the Guymon, Okla.-born man has served as the Livestock and Equine Center director and ranch horse coach at Clarendon College, a community college in the Donley County seat. Now heâ€™s adding rodeo coach to his list of duties, recently hired to take over the 30-year-old program.
â€śI feel like the Good Lord led me here,â€ť said Franks, a graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell and a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in saddle bronc riding. â€śWhen the rodeo coaching job came up, it was the perfect fit. It was almost like it was meant to be.â€ť
He was raised two and a half hours north in the Oklahoma Panhandle in an agriculture family. He participated in ag-based programs and attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on a livestock judging scholarship. He transferred to Panhandle State on a rodeo scholarship and won the Central Plains Region bronc riding championship while there.
He began a 10-year career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1993, qualifying for the NFR as one of the top 15 bronc riders in world standings in 1997, â€™98 and 2000. He won the Prairie Circuit saddle bronc riding title twice and was the 2002 National Circuit Finals Rodeo champion.
From 1995-99, Franks served as rodeo coach at his alma mater, guiding the menâ€™s team to the national championship in 1997 and 1998. He did that while also juggling a prolific rodeo career.
â€śI think the biggest thing I can bring to the kids on the rodeo team is my ability to coach the mental aspect of the game,â€ť said Franks, who lives in Clarendon with his wife, Darla, and their sons, Clint and Cole. â€śWith my 20/20 vision of the past, I can look at the mistakes and struggles I had in the sport, and I can help them deter those problems and challenges before they ever get there.
â€śI can help them mentally prepare to win.â€ť
Though he slowed down his rodeo career considerably after the 2002 season, he always was close to the game. He was the livestock supervisor and rodeo coordinator for Carr Pro Rodeo from 2005-09, then took a job as assistant manager at Cattlemenâ€™s II Feedlot in Hedley, Texas, just a short drive from his Clarendon home. He worked there for four years until the business closed, then began his duties at Clarendon College.
The institution is the first Texas junior college to have a ranch horse team, which promotes the college and agriculture in ranches and stock horse events. As the Livestock and Equine Center director, he is in charge of all events at the facility, including ropings, barrel racing competitions, bull ridings, clinics and practices, just to name a few. Now heâ€™ll add to that list.
â€śItâ€™s a big undertaking and a huge responsibility, but Iâ€™m really looking forward to everything,â€ť he said
Bret Franks has a powerful career of rodeo experiences to use in order to help teach the young rodeo stars at Clarendon College.