By: Justin Felisko
March 24, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater would roll over in his bed and throw his pillow over his face when he was 10 years old.
Outside his bedroom, his father, Randy Dirteater, would be calling for his son to wake up and start knocking on his door.
Ryan could hear his dad and knew what he was about to say.
“He was always on me about, ‘You need to get up and go run early in the morning,’ Ryan recalled last weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational. “I would be trying to sleep in as a kid and he would be like, ‘Get up. You need to go do something. Go take a jog. Get up, do some crunches.’”
The message was clear for Randy.
He wanted his son to know that hard work pays off if you are willing to put the time and effort in. You couldn’t just wake up in the morning and already be the best.
“I always told him, ‘If you are going to start something, do your best to finish it whether you like it or not,” Randy said in Albuquerque after making the 11-hour drive with his son to the Built Ford Tough Series event.
Eventually, Ryan would crawl out of bed and throw on a pair of shorts or jeans, depending on what the task at hand may be.
There were many days where Ryan would accompany Randy, who owns his own plumbing business, to various job sites to assist his dad. As he got older, Ryan would grab a shovel and help build trenches or water lines and work on other tasks.
“I learned I didn’t want to do that, so I had to ride bulls,” Ryan said.
Ryan still remembers the question, or better yet advice, Randy gave him:
“He said, it was either 8 hours or 8 seconds.”
Ryan, now 26 years old, chose 8 seconds, and he has since made a career as a professional bull rider with close to $850,000 in career earnings in the PBR.
But two weeks ago, it wasn’t as much about making a paycheck as it was giving back to the sport that has given him so much.
Ryan and fellow bull rider Skeeter Kingsolver offered an impromptu bull riding school to six aspiring cowboys on March 14 at Rockin DJ Sports Arena in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
“We just had a great time,” Dirteater said. “We got on the drop barrel, the stationary barrel and did some drills. We rode horses, played freeze tag (on horses) and took off into the pasture. We gathered up 30-head of cattle. We just made it fun and hopefully they learned something from it.”
Randy, a former amateur bull rider, helped out during the school and at one point saw his son giving advice to a young bull rider.
The moment led to a flashback.
“Well, I see a lot of his one-on-ones are a lot like me and him is,” Randy said. “He would take a kid off to the side and really just build that kid up mentally and then prepared him to get on and make all of the right fundamental moves or whatever he is trying to teach them. I see him do that to individual kids that really want to learn. He has been really aggressive with that.
Ryan added, “I am older now. When I was young, I didn’t feel like I was ready to teach. All of these kids look up to all of us bull riders and they want to learn and have goals just like we did. I want to show them at least the opportunity is there and if they wanted it bad enough they can get it.”
Dirteater heads into the BFTS Easter break No. 17 in the world standings and is 10-for-27. He won the BFTS event in Phoenix three weeks ago as well, and if all goes as anticipated, Dirteater will qualify for his eighth Built Ford Tough World Finals since first doing so in 2008.
“I think a lot of our kids around our part of the country are going to really learn from him being a veteran now in the PBR,” Randy said. “That is bringing more and more of them to go out and gain their goals and dreams. That is what he teaches – goals and dreams.”
This year was the third bull riding clinic Ryan, who resides in nearby Hulbert, has hosted in Tahlequah.
Ryan said that not only does he plan on offering another school in the near future, but that he wants his mentorship to stem beyond just aspiring bull riders.
He has already taken Brady Sims under his wing this year, and he hopes to be a future resource for upcoming professional bull riders from Oklahoma.
“Right now, Brady is only 22, and he has been right in there with me,” Ryan said. “I will be 27 next month. I am not a spring chicken no more.”
Ideally, he wants to have the same impact on his fellow younger riders like fellow Oklahoman bull rider Austin Meier had on him.
“Austin Meier helped me out, especially when I was a rookie,” Ryan said. “There are some young kids around Oklahoma that are 18, 19 that are coming up that hope to get on tour. Kade Alberty. Cody Rodeo Tyler. Jake Gowdy.
“They are young kids from around home and they are not too far from me. It will be fun for them to travel with me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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