LAS VEGAS – A knee injury in 2011 sidelined hopes of a world championship for Cort Scheer.
It didn’t diminish his dreams.
If anything, not being able to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo created a fever that has served as motivation for Scheer, a 26-year-old saddle bronc rider from tiny Elsmere, Neb. Instead of riding the fiercest bucking horses in the business, he watched from the seats in the Thomas and Mack Center.
“I think it helped, because it makes you crave it more,” he said of viewing ProRodeo’s grandest spectacle instead of competing it in. “You’ve just got to sit there and watch, and I just kept telling myself that I’m not going to watch it anymore. If I’m going to be there, I dang sure want to be out there in it.”
He gets redemption at this year’s NFR, set for Dec. 6-15 in Las Vegas, with nightly live broadcasts at 9 p.m. Central on GAC. Scheer has qualified for his second trip to the finals as one of the top 15 bronc riders in the world standings. He goes to the Nevada desert 10th on the money list, having earned $67,751.
“I dang sure feel a lot better this time than I did the first time,” said Scheer, who last competed on ProRodeo’s biggest stage in 2010. “The first time I didn’t know what to expect. This year I feel like I know what to expect, and I’m a lot more confident.”
It takes self-confidence to compete among ProRodeo’s elite, but that’s where Scheer rides most of the time. A season ago, he finished 25th in the world standings even though he was unable to compete the final four months of the campaign.
“This year I was really blessed,” said Scheer, who utilized rodeo scholarships to attend Garden City (Kan.) Community College, Montana State University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. “I drew outstanding, and I got to get on a lot of great horses. I’m just blessed all the way around.”
Now he’ll test his skills against the greatest horses in the business, those selected by the men who ride them throughout the year.
“If you take care of business, then anything can happen,” Scheer said.
That’s the plan, too. The NFR features a $6.5 million purse, and go-round winners will earn about $18,000 a night. This is a chance to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, another reason why it’s so important to qualify.
Scheer won six rodeo titles this season, including events in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Red Bluff, Calif.; Lufkin, Texas; Marshall, Texas; High River, Alberta; and Great Falls, Mont. Combine that will collecting a lot of other checks along the way, and Scheer had a very solid season. In fact, he had all but secured his NFR qualification by the first of August.
“Really the only thing different for me this year was that I’m more experienced,” he said. “The last time I went to the NFR, it was like I’d made it there and didn’t know why. This year was more like buckling down and going to winning it.
“I feel like I’ve been going a while and should be able to handle it.”
Two Decembers ago, Scheer placed in seven of 10 go-rounds, including the ninth-round win. In all, he won more than $70,000.
“He’s like the All-American kid,” said Jim Boy Hash, Garden City’s rodeo coach. “He was dang sure a pleasure to have around here. Not only was he intelligent, but he was reliable. If I needed anything done, he was there.
“There is a small percentage of kids like him. It’s neat to see somebody like that be able to make it. I wish I could have six of him every year on my men’s rodeo team.”
He’s proven to be an asset to the crew with which he travels the rodeo trail, which includes Tyler Corrington of Hastings, Minn., and Chet Johnson of Sheridan, Wyo. Both are veterans of the game and have qualified for the NFR. Though neither will be among the top 15 this December, they’ve remained among the elite – both qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which Corrington won earlier in November.
“Having guys like that helps a ton, because you’re riding with two guys that have been through that situation,” Scheer said. “Everybody’s out to help each other. You’re only as good as the people you ride against. They help you mentally.”
Of course, it helps when you’re one of the best athletically, which Scheer is. He has been for some time, whether it was wrestling, playing football or rodeoing. Raised on a ranch in the Nebraska sand hills, there’s not much Scheer hasn’t done, and his family is a big reason why.
The youngest of Kevin and Pam Scheer’s three children, he was allowed the opportunity to be involved, just like brother Clete and sister Kema.
“My family is my whole life,” said Cort Scheer, who credits his partnership with Carr Pro Rodeo, Cinch Jeans & Shirts and the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas for helping him live his rodeo dreams. “I’m so blessed. My parents have been behind me since I was a kid. They hauled me to everything, and they sacrificed everything for me. I put a lot of my success on my family.
“If I’m not riding good, I call home. Mom may not know a lot about bronc riding, but she always offers me help. It’s unreal how much my family helps me. They keep my mind in it.”
With his mind right, Scheer now focuses his eyes on the prize.
“I ride broncs because I love it and I’ve always dreamed about it,” he said. “God has blessed me with the talent to do it, and it’s my responsibility to do it and give Him the glory. All the talents and everything you’ve got are blessings from God, and He wants you to use them for Him. I give Him all the credit for wanting me to and for me having the ability to do it.”