Jersey Shore native’s passion for rodeo wins him the gold
Jersey Shore native's passion for rodeo wins him the gold
Kicked-up dirt catching the sunlight all around the ring, crowds in cowboy hats cheering from packed stands, fringe and a single arm raised to the sky — these are things people do not experience on a daily basis. But for Tyler Waltz, of Jersey Shore, this is life.
This January, Waltz made the cover of “Rodeo News,” and his personal journey to the top of his field was shared in the issue’s pages. Waltz was on the professional rodeo circuit for years before he became the World Champion Bareback Bronc Rider in 2018.
“His parents, family and friends made the trip to Oklahoma to watch him win the World Championship,” said Connie Welshans, a Waltz family relative.
Waltz, however, did not stumble upon rodeo by accident — one could say it runs in his blood.
“My dad rode bulls and bareback horses,” said Waltz, remembering his earliest exposure to rodeo. “I don’t know exactly how old I was, but from the time I could walk I wanted to rodeo,” said Waltz.
While other kids his age were possibly dreaming of being firefighters or astronauts, Waltz had his eyes and future set in the rodeo ring.
Waltz grew up admiring the cowboys on the covers of rodeo magazines, he said. “To be that guy (myself), it was pretty amazing,” said Waltz, who was photographed for “Rodeo News,” hanging on to a bucking horse midair with a heroic halo light of dirt kicked up around him. But neither the cover of “Rodeo News” nor the World Championship came easy. Like any sport, there are innumerable hours that go into training and practice.
“I have a bucking machine I practice on in my garage. It’s like any other sport — work out and practice my fundamentals,” said Waltz.
Whereas traditional athletes must contend with other equally skilled athletes, Waltz has to handle an unpredictable animal trying to throw him off, but Waltz loves it. “It’s what I eat, sleep and breathe for, and all I ever wanted to do,” said Waltz. Waltz’s passion for rodeo is clearly visible to everyone who knows him.
“Tyler is very caring, faithful, friendly, hardworking, humble and is always willing to help others,” said Cindy Waltz, Tyler’s mother, “I’m very proud to say, ‘he’s my son.’ “ ” Though Waltz’s accolades and pride did not come without their fair share of challenges, like the large amount of time spent traveling, being on the rodeo circuit is not all cutthroat competition. In fact, far from it.
“The circuit is like a big rodeo family — everybody is there for one another, and we like to see our buddies win,” said Waltz, who not only has friends in rodeo, but a girlfriend as well. Brianna Dunbar, who won the World Championship for Breakaway Roping in 2017, is one of Waltz’s favorite reasons for traveling, said Waltz.
When he’s not bareback riding or helping with the farm or family business, Waltz is working with Roughstock U, a group of people established to foster the youth’s passion for the sport of rodeo. “We are dedicated to helping young people start out right,” said their Facebook page. He and his father also raise bucking bulls together, said his mother.
Outside the rodeo ring, Waltz is a humble person, helping with the family farm and business, TLC Fuels, in Jersey Shore. Despite his World Championship win, according to his mother, “he has not changed at all,” which is surprising for someone who is not even 30 years old, yet has already achieved their lifelong dream. “He is still very focused on his future, which is competing and maybe winning another world title,” said his mother.
The moment someone’s hard work pays off, it goes unnoticed. For Waltz, however, this moment is cemented in a photo of him holding a gold World Championship belt buckle in front of a meticulously tooled saddle with “WORLD CHAMPION BAREBACK BRONC RIDER 2018” proudly emblazoned on the fender, and the International Professional Rodeo Association logo branded above it.
“When asked what is next for Waltz, one can tell the sheer determination in his simple answer of, “try to win the World (Championship) again this year.”