Latham Strives for Success
- by Scott Puryear of Aggie Sports on 10/5/05
Goodwell, OK - The very first
item in the OPSU Rodeo Handbook states, “The most
important goal as a rodeo athlete is to be a successful
student at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.”
Anyone acquainted with the OPSU coach, Craig Latham,
knows that rodeo is serious business at the school and
the student athletes on the men’s and women’s
teams are expected to strive for success in the same
way that Latham does.
Latham spent 15 years on the professional rodeo circuit
before taking the reins of his alma mater’s program
four years ago. Rich in tradition, the OPSU rodeo program
began in the late 1960’s (under “Doc” Gardner)
and flourishes today under Latham’s watchful and
Though soft-spoken, the still athletic Latham was a fierce
competitor during his successful professional career. Fifteen
years is an extremely long tenure in any professional sport,
let alone one as physically demanding as rodeo.
Latham was highly respected during his days on the pro
circuit and today, he is one of the most esteemed college
rodeo coaches in the entire country. He still has the competitive
fire and he passes it along to the young people on the
Aggie and Lady Aggie teams. He is also a firm believer
that the student athletes under his guidance tend to business
in the classroom and they are very aware that their coach
pays as much attention to their grades and class attendance
as he does their rodeo endeavors.
Oklahoma Panhandle State has won the National Collegiate
Championship four of the last eight years and is well on
the way to being known as a dynasty.
The OPSU team competes in only one rodeo in the local
area every year and many times travels great distances
to participate. However, fans can get a good look at
the team during October at the Doc Gardner Arena near
the OPSU campus. Every Tuesday, the student athletes
will be involved in “Jackpot” competitions
that are open to the public. They begin at 4:30 in the
afternoon, weather permitting
There will also be a special competition at their arena
on Wednesday, October 12.
The OPSU program competes with and beats teams from many
schools much larger than their own. Each year Latham manages
to recruit several of the top prospects in the country
to be a part of that program, and many of these student
athletes could have competed for schools like Kansas State,
Oklahoma State, Texas Tech or the University of Nevada-Las
Vegas. They come to OPSU because of the tradition of the
rodeo program, and they come because of the quality and
atmosphere of the school and they come because of the camaraderie
of the team members.
They also come to OPSU because of Craig Latham.