Rempe back in the saddle for final home rodeo

By UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS

Gary and Stacy Rempe traveled many a mile watching their three sons play sports throughout the year at Centralia High School in northeast Kansas. So they wouldn’t think of missing this weekend’s Fort Hays State University rodeo to watch their youngest son, Nathan, compete.

It will be the last FHSU rodeo for Nathan, and it’s his first competition in several weeks after being sidelined with an injury. His family won’t have long to wait to watch him compete this weekend. He will mount his horse at Doug Phillip Arena for Thursday evening’s first public performance of the 56th annual event.

Nathan will compete as the heeler in the team roping event along with the header, Horacio Holguin from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The top 10 scores and times in each event from the first four rounds of competition advance to Saturday night’s finals at 7:00. The first two public performances are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday with slack performances at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Nathan has high hopes that Thursday’s competition is not his last go-around.

“I’d definitely like to go out with a bang at my last home rodeo in college,” Nathan said. “This being our hometown rodeo, I’m pretty excited to set the pace for the team roping – and for our entire team.”

Setting the pace was something that became old hat at tradition-rich Centralia High, which has won state championships in multiple sports. But success in rodeo didn’t come as easily for Nathan, who didn’t compete in that arena until college.

Although he lived just an hour from two other state universities, Nathan decided to follow some friends to FHSU after his high school graduation.

“When I came and visited Fort Hays State, I loved the campus and the atmosphere,” he said. “I was from a small town, and FHSU has a small-town atmosphere. I realized I could get the same education, if not better, at Fort Hays State and at a more affordable rate.”

His friends happened to be part of the rodeo team, so Nathan started hanging out at the arena. He joined the FHSU Rodeo Club his freshman year and used that year to gain valuable experience.

Rodeo was new to the Rempe family, but Nathan’s parents vowed to follow and support him in his new venture.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the rodeo part of it,” said his mother, who has attended every rodeo that Nathan has competed in during his college career.

She added that they were pleased that Nathan chose FHSU because Hays “felt like a second home.” The Rempes had visited Fort Hays State numerous times when Centralia qualified for state high school sporting events.

“Hays was our home-away-from-home when the boys were in high school,” she said. “We got to know the town, which is so welcoming, and the campus is just as friendly as the community. So we knew Nathan would fit in well here.”

The Rempes gave Nathan his first horse when he was 8 years old, and he had worked at a feed yard back home during high school. So riding horses was nothing new for the youngest Rempe sibling. But roping a calf’s hind legs sure was.

“Nathan was pretty green when he first started here,” said Bronc Rumford, one of the FHSU coaches. “But he has worked really hard to get to where he is today. He bought into things we have tried to teach him, and he’s a kid we’re proud of from a coaching standpoint.”

Nathan started entering competitions his sophomore year and plans to continue competing in rodeos after graduation.

In looking back, Nathan said that choosing Fort Hays State was one of the best decisions of his life. While in school, he met his future wife, Bailey McCaughey, an FHSU rodeo team alum. Nathan and Bailey will both graduate from FHSU in May and are engaged to be married Sept. 3.

Bailey is good friends with T.J. Watts, a rope horse trainer in Colorado. Nathan started training colts for Watts and plans to continue that job after graduation.

It all started with the rodeo team, an experience of a lifetime Nathan said he will never forget. “Our club is tight-knit. We all work together as a family, so we are a really close group,” he said. “It’s hard not to improve with support like that.”

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