Michael McCamman, a lifelong Madison County resident and recent graduate of Aucilla Christian Academy, has qualified to compete at the national level for bronco riding.The National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) will be held in Gillette, Wyo. from July 17 to 23. McCamman entered the Florida High School Rodeo Association and was ranked in the top two bronco riders statewide. This ranking allowed him to qualify for the NHSFR, an incredibly well respected contest in the rodeo community. Just last week, McCamman participated in the Watermelon Festival Rodeo, coming in first place on the first night and second place during the following night's events.
McCamman began bronco riding when he was 16 years old while working for Paul Bass. Bass encouraged McCamman to get involved with the sport after seeing him ride colts. Not all of McCamman's family members are thrilled that he participates in such an exciting and dangerous sport. McCamman says, however, that his mother, Melissa McCamman, is very supportive. McCamman is incredibly dedicated, using his own money to travel to rodeo competitions every two to three weeks.
Like any other sport, bronco riding has its own system for statistics. All year, riders attend and compete in rodeos, both in and out of state. Based on their performance, the riders receive points and prize money that could vary anywhere from $250 to $5,000 or more depending on the size of the event and the rider's top five ranking. These numbers are then calculated cumulatively at the end of the year. McCamman stated that he generally ranks somewhere in the top five or six in these competitions. According to McCamman, bronco riding is an extremely competitive sport, but “[when] push comes to shove, [the riders] are all friends.” The young men continually push each other to work harder and be their very best.
Right before the gate opens, when the bronco is free to buck and run, is an intense moment to say the least. “I try to keep an open and clear mind,... rely[ing] on muscle memory,” said McCamman stressing the mental element of the sport. “You have to take the fight to [the horse], because he's going to beat you up if you don't.” There is no doubt that McCamman knows about the risks associated with riding. From the time he began riding at 16 to now at 18, McCamman has torn a ligament in his thumb, torn three ligaments in his shoulder and has had three concussions. On what makes bronco riding worth the risk, McCamman stated that he loves the adrenalin rush that comes from riding, but that it is really all about the lifestyle for him. “It's the cowboy way,” said McCamman with a laugh. On what winning at the national level would mean to him, McCamman said, “It would prove to me that I was the best for that year,... [and I would feel] a sense of accomplishment.”
If you would like to show your support for Michael financially, he and his family have opened a donation account at Madison County Community Bank, under the name Michael McCamman – savings – travel, to help fund his journey to nationals.