n the past 12 years, Jerrad Hofstetter has worked to strengthen the caliber of rodeo athletes in the Lubbock area by hosting clinics and training students. However, when an opening came up for the position of Texas Tech’s rodeo coach, Hofstetter was hesitant to apply.
He worked diligently to fill the open position of Texas Tech’s rodeo coach before deciding to go for it himself.
“A friend of mine, Jennifer Brazil, who ran the equestrian center last year goes to church with me, and she asked me to help find a rodeo coach,” Hofstetter said.
Shaking his head, Hofstetter said he must have called 15-20 people who he believed were qualified for the position and was turned down by each of them.
“My wife ended up telling Jennifer behind my back that I wanted the job,” Hofstetter said, “but I’ll be really honest and say I don’t have a degree, so I never applied.”
Hofstetter said Brazil convinced him to apply and shortly after he was named the new Texas Tech Rodeo coach.
“It’s been a blessing being here,” Hofstetter said. “The kids are absolutely amazing. The people I work with are amazing. This really is a neat, neat program that we have out here.”
No stranger to the highly competitive world of rodeo, the first-year coach qualified for the National Finals Rodeo on three separate occasions before retiring.
According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is widely acknowledged as the world’s premier rodeo, which showcases the best rodeo athletes in the world each year.
“I have been fortunate in my career to have seen what it takes to win, and the kids out here are outstanding, but a lot of them haven’t been around somebody that understands how to get to that next level,” Hofstetter said. “This year’s been a huge learning experience for a lot of them.”
Kim Lindsey, the director of the Texas Tech Equestrian Center, said Hofstetter has made an impact on every part of the equestrian center, not just the rodeo team.
“I think Jerrad is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to the Texas Tech Rodeo program,” Lindsey said. “It takes a special individual to be a great coach, and I think we’ve found ours.”
Lindsey said Hofstetter is a team player and has fostered a sense of unity between the four teams housed in the equestrian center: rodeo, ranch horse, equestrian and horse judging.
“We’re all one big team, and if we work like that, we can get more done and be more successful,” Lindsey said.
Hofstetter and Lindsey both agreed the best part of working at the equestrian center is the students.
“It’s really fulfilling to get to see these kids, especially a freshman, come in and get to see them mature the four years they are here,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said the whole purpose of what they do is to produce outstanding individuals and build the character of the students.
“A lot of our rodeo kids become professionals, then they go on and do other great things,” Lindsey said. “You have to think about it. If they are going to school and doing all this too, they are pretty driven.”
Hofstetter beamed with pride as he talked about the students on the rodeo team.
“The strongest part about the rodeo team is the character of the kids that are on it,” Hofstetter said.
In his role, Hofstetter has made sure the students on the rodeo team, even with their busy schedules, are giving back to the Lubbock community.
“We’ve done a lot of community service,” Hofstetter said. “Right before the year started, we laid 1,500 feet of water lines. We put on a rodeo for kids with special needs, and then for Christmas, we went to the children’s hospital and helped make cookies with them.”
Hofstetter said the rodeo program is centered around the students and everything they do starts with the students.
“We are actually not funded by the university,” Hofstetter said. “We are the only school in our region, which is the biggest and toughest region in the country, that is not a part of the school’s sports program. We are like a club.”
Hofstetter pointed out the students have to raise money for everything the rodeo team does and all the gear they need.
“The strongest part about the rodeo team is the character of the kids that are on it.”
“They go out to local businesses, and we’ve been very fortunate,” Hofstetter said. “The local community has been outstanding this year. We’re trying to get past alumni involved and just get this program back on the map.”
Hofstetter stressed the equestrian center and rodeo team can move forward in multiple ways with more notoriety and more involvement from the community and alumni.
“I’ve got a lot of things that I’m pushing for,” Hofstetter said. “We want the whole town to know about us, and we also want to win. We’ve got the talent.”
Hofstetter said they need more seats, stalls and plug-ins at the facility in order to have more events.
“It’s funny because there are a lot of people in Lubbock that don’t realize we have a college rodeo team,” Hofstetter said. “Students right there on campus, they don’t even know we exist. That’s really a shame.”
“There are too many great things going on out here to be overlooked, and it gets overlooked,” Lindsey said. “We’d just like to share that with everybody. I think we’ve only scratched the surface.”