Meet the Member: Michael Smith

by Rodeo News
8-year-old super fan Carson with Michael Smith   - courtesy of the family

8-year-old super fan Carson with Michael Smith – courtesy of the family

story by Kyle Eustice

Siloam Springs, Arkansas resident and barrel man Michael Smith, 31, was raised by his grandparents, who had a huge impact on him growing up. His grandfather was a rodeo announcer and his grandmother was a rodeo secretary. Needless to say, the current ACRA member was surrounded by the rodeo way of life from an early age, and every fall and summer would go out to rodeos with them.
“I loved my parents, but because of a nasty divorce when I was around 12, the decision was made to live with them,” explained Michael. “I was in a miserable place, but it really helped develop me as a person. Because of those experiences I understand the importance of relationships.”
Michael has been married to his wife, Amanda, for two years, but they have been together for five years. They had their first son, Rhodey Owen Thomas Smith (say it quickly), 16 months ago, which has shifted his priorities.
“It is the greatest thing I have ever been blessed with in my entire life,” said Michael. “I never had a father figure growing up except my grandfather. When you work in the rodeo industry, you develop life skills at a young age. As far as clowning, I had to learn on my own. I can share life experiences and what I have learned with my son, and raise him in a secure environment. Rodeo is like one big family. That’s the joy behind it.”
Michael has come a long way. When he was younger he competed in junior rodeos, but after graduating from Springdale High soon after 9/11, he joined the military. He wanted to be on the Army rodeo team, but made the decision to enlist as an Infantryman/ Ranger. After serving, Michael returned home to continue with his passion of competing in rodeos. However, a serendipitous accident stopped him in his tracks.
“In 2011, I was riding bulls and bucking horses at an IPRA rodeo and I collided with a bull’s head,” explained Michael. “I fractured my skull in four places. Doctors said if anything else happened, it could be life changing. I hung up my rope and started entertaining.”
That was the beginning of his clowning career and he hasn’t looked back. Under his “Goobie” moniker, he officially began clowning in 2012 and was fortunate enough to have the help of rodeo announcer Brett Welldon, who helped book over 30 shows his inaugural year.
“Clowning is an important aspect of rodeo, but a lot of people misinterpret what rodeo clowns do,” said Michael. “Safety is important. Besides being there during bull riding, my job is to make sure fans are entertained. I don’t mean just tell a joke. I don’t do that often. I try to get fans involved in the rodeos. Then they’re more prone to enjoy it, and take home a life long memory.”
He admits the cheers and laughs are wonderful to hear, but that’s not why he does it. For him, it’s more like his catharsis.
“When you can see a family enjoying themselves together, it makes you feel good,” said Michael. “It allows me to do a lot of advocating for Special Olympics. I talk about it at every rodeo and use it as a platform to raise awareness. Bullying needs to stop, and individuals with disabilities need to feel accepted and not judged.When you see people smiling, i get more out of it than they do.”
One particular super fan, 8-year-old Carson, idolizes Michael and sometimes drives up to five hours to see him perform.
“That’s the greatest thing that ever happened to my rodeo career,” said Michael. He has Q28 and the oldest any kid has lived is 14. He admires me more than anything and I’ve connected emotionally with him. He puts the stamp on my career.”

                © Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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