courtesy of SWTJC Rodeo Alumni As Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas celebrates their 60th Anniversary as a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) team, […]
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by Sharon Adams
Charlie Rankin might be the most important person at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, this June. Charlie was a saddle bronc rider, a student at Texas A&M, and enjoyed competition. He sent out letters to rodeo clubs and ag departments around the western states and rounded up a group of like minded cowboys and they met and started a college rodeo organization, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. This was a student led organization, begun on a shoe string, led by young men who were full time students, wedging rodeo and the management of a rodeo organization into their college schedules. The odds were all against the NIRA surviving even a couple of seasons much less sixty-seven years! That it did survive and thrive is due to the forethought, wisdom, planning, and drive of those determined young men.
When the NIRA was founded Charlie Rankin was 23 years old and had served in the Navy aboard an aircraft carrier in World War II so he knew a little about carrying out an important job.. He was the first Student President of the NIRA, competed at the First College Finals in 1949 in San Francisco, and kept the membership records in boxes in his dorm room until he was called back into the Navy during the Korean War. This member of the “greatest generation” will be celebrating his 90th birthday this June and is choosing to spend part of his birthday month at the College Finals. This is only fitting as he not only was one of the founders of the NIRA but over the past seventy years he has promoted and supported the sport of college rodeo.
Charlie Rankin and his family have come from South Texas to the CNFR. Drop by the Alumni Reunion at the Parkway Plaza on Friday, June 19, and tell Charlie “Thank You” for his service and his vision for college rodeo!