Bridger Chambers – Stevensville, Mont. ($79,028)
2-time WNFR qualifier
Steer wrestling is known as a “big man’s” evemt, and that suits Bridger Chambers. At 6’5” he towers over most other WNFR contestants. A former college basketball player, Bridger is believed to be the only athlete to compete in the NAIA national championship basketball tournament and the College National Finals Rodeo in the same year, as a senior at the University of Montana Western in 2012.
While Bridger has always been a talented steer wrestler, he mainly competed in his circuit while running a drug dog business for the past six years with his father Keith, a former college basketball teammate of 1997 World Champion Steer Wrestler Brad Gleason, another Montanan.
“Our biggest clients are schools. We’re just trying to keep that stuff off campuses,” Bridger told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last December. During the year, Keith and Bridger make more than 500 visits to clients across Montana and in neighboring states.
Last year after success at his circuit finals and in Kissimmee, Florida, at the RAM National Circuit Finals, Keith urged Bridger to hit the road and try to make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Bridger started last year’s NFR eighth in the world standings last year and made a great debut. He placed in five of the 10 rounds, won more than $135,000 and finished as reserve world champion. This year he is starting in 13th place with $79,028 in regular-season earnings.
He didn’t get a fast start this season, but by mid-August he was 17th in the world championship standings and firmly on the bubble to qualify for another trip to Las Vegas. He didn’t move into the Top 15 until he earned $10,000 at the Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon two weeks before the season ended.
While in college, Bridger earned his bachelor’s degree in health and human performance. He taught special education for one year before he and Keith started their business.
Bridger and his wife, Kristen, have four children, a daughter Maddie, then a son Hudson and twin boys, Crewe and Case. On September 19, Kristen and Bridger signed the papers on a new home in Butte, Montana. They will just have time to get settled in before traveling to Las Vegas for Bridger’s second WNFR.