It takes a certain type of athlete to participate in a rodeo. The inherent dangers are obvious and in high volume. Horses and bulls are powerful animals that can kill with a well-placed kick or stomp. A flair for danger is necessary, as is a disregard for personal safety, as carelessness or just plain bad luck can lead to a serious injury at any time.
Former Sequim resident Nick “Bucky” Dickson fits the mold.
“You definitely need to have a screw loose,” Dickson said, “You know you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to waste your money; it has to be in your blood.”
Dickson discovered he had this blood flowing through his veins at the age of 6, when he began competing. Upon graduating from Sequim High School in 2007, he received a scholarship to the University of Wyoming where he is studying kinesiology, the science of human movement, a stark contrast to a sport dependent on the movement of an angry bull writhing beneath you.
“College is cool but I’m not a big fan of Wyoming.” Dickson said, “It’s cold, windy, it has no trees or mountains, and I’m just not very impressed with it. They claim to have trees but it just ends up being clumps of shrubs. I do like the college and the rodeo team though.”
Despite this grim depiction, Dickson is enjoying success in his new habitat, taking fourth in the first go with 64 points and first in the short go with 78 points at an Intercollegiate Rodeo Association event in Casper, Wyo., on April 19-20. He also took fourth place in a rodeo in La Pine, Ore., over the Fourth of July weekend, having to use two horses because the first one didn’t buck enough. Dickson is able to compete in 15-20 rodeos a year while attending school. During his winning short go in Casper, he also discovered another way to earn notoriety.
“On my short go, I didn’t use the pick-up man.” Dickson said, “I just jumped off the horse and, on the way down, the horse kicked me in the head, knocking my helmet off and knocking me unconscious. I’ve had to have my jaw wired shut but luckily I’m still able to compete with it.”
A video of Dickson’s unfortunate dismount can be seen at www.trib.com — the homepage of the Casper Star-Tribune. It is featured on the Casper College Rodeo Bloopers link. It was not the first injury for Dickson, who says so far he’s broken 15 bones while competing. He broke an arm in another situation when he neglected the pick-up man.
“I will definitely use the pick-up man from now on.” Dickson said, “It’s something I need to learn to do.”
Luckily, scrapes and broken bones haven’t dissuaded Dickson from his first goal, going pro after graduating. He is not allowed to compete professionally while he’s a student.
He also shared a personal goal for life after competing.
“I am definitely going to go pro, but in the end I would like to become an athletic trainer.” Dickson said, “I can probably only compete as a pro for about 10 years. My body will not be able to take much more than that.”
A lifetime of injuries and time spent mending them would be helpful for an athletic trainer, even if only to empathize with patients. Dickson also shared one important rule he follows, which has helped him avoid even more injuries.
“Always wear a helmet, that’s all I can say.” Dickson said, “I used to get made fun of for it, but it’s very important.”