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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Meet the Member: Richard Schneehagen
story by Lily Weinacht
“I was a ‘one man’ rodeo team at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas,” jokes Richard Schneehagen. It seems that the Catholic prep school did not hold the sport of rodeo in high esteem. That was back in 1963 when Richard was a senior. There was no high school rodeo association in Nevada in 1963 but there was a junior rodeo association and that is the year that Richard won the Bareback Riding and the Bull Riding and took second in the Saddle Bronc Riding.
It was back in grade school in North Las Vegas that Richard got interested in rodeo when he met fellow classmate, Ned Londo. Ned and a few other young men were giving rough stock riding a try. A local rancher provided some practice stock and the boys started entering youth rodeos. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and a lifelong connection to the sport.
A few years later, Ned convinced Richard to enroll at Lamar Community College in Colorado and take part in college rodeo. Ned won a College National Championship at Lamar, transferred to Casper College and competed successfully there. Richard eventually transferred to Colorado State in Pueblo, spent some time in the Navy, joined the PRCA, retired from competition in 1972, worked for a time for the Atomic Energy Commission, and worked for an electrical contractor throughout the Western states. He learned on the job and worked his way up to electrical superintendent on large construction projects, often supervising people with degrees in Electrical Engineering! Wherever he worked he found a college and took classes, some work related and others on subjects that interested him. “More satisfying than watching TV.” Richard had two skills that helped him with his job. He could visualize the project before him and how it should work. Of course there were blueprints but actually visualizing, knowing how everything should perform, made for a surer outcome. The other skill was what schools nowadays call “a soft skill,” the ability to get along with people. “If you can get people to work for you, you will succeed and that means treating them fairly and appreciating what they do,” says Richard.
If you live in the Western states, you have benefitted from his work: a water treatment plant in Tucson, an airport in Idaho, a project for Union Pacific Railroad, and many other large jobs that have provided safe water and power to thousands.
While on a job in Seattle, he met a doctor from China. They became friends and he made several trips to China, once taking several copies of the reading program, Hooked on Phonics, to give to teachers in the town he was visiting. English is a required subject in Chinese schools.
Richard is retired and lives in Hermiston, Oregon. He has three sons and a daughter and several grandchildren. That friendship with Ned Londo is what convinced him to join the NIRA Alumni. He shares the goals set by the Alumni: reward good performances in the arena and encourage continuing education. “And for good rodeo, you can’t beat the College Finals.”