DODGE CITY, Kan. – Even though he has lived in Oklahoma most of his life, Dodge City is always home to Cody Hessman.
He was born there and lived there for the first 10 years of his life, and next week he returns to town to be part of the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association Finals, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23-Saturday, Sept. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at Roundup Arena.
“It’s actually pretty nice to have the finals in Dodge City,” said Hessman, 24, of Beaver, Okla. “I really enjoy going there, and the committee does a real good job. I’m the (KPRA) bull riding director, and I’ve seen how much they help out. The atmosphere is really good.
“It’s always been home to me. I really enjoyed it when I was in Dodge.”’
He is the son of Pete Hessman, who made a big name for himself on the Professional Bull Riders tour. Now Pete’s sons, Cody and Tyler, are trying to make their own names in the same game.
“Being a bull rider has been my main goal since I was little,” Cody Hessman said. “We went with my dad some when he was going. We went a lot when he was rodeoing, but when he started going to the PBRs, we didn’t go as much.
“A couple times a year, if we were good and did good in school, he’d take Tyler and I with him.”
Those memories are still vivid, from seeing the top cowboys in the game work their craft to spending time behind the chutes. There were also a lot of miles on the road, so the rodeo life is nothing new.
“I remember a lot of people packed into a little car,” Hessman said. “Dad had some old little Pontiac that he rodeoed in a lot. He’d have four guys with him, then if he’d take me and Tyler, it was pretty packed in there. We’d usually sleep in that car.”
The nice thing about competing in the KPRA is that there aren’t as many miles between events. He sits ninth in the association’s bull riding standings and knows the year-end championship is out of reach, but he still has plans for the final weekend of September.
“I’d like to win the KPRA year-end one of these years, but the timing is a little bad this year,” he said. “My brother, Tyler, won it last year, and my dad and my uncle Durk have won it. I want to add my name to that list.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the finale in his hometown, where he has the opportunity to compete in front of family and friends.
“My grandma and grandpa still live in Dodge, and my uncle Andy is there,” Hessman said. “My uncle Durk lives in Cimarron, so there’s a lot of family right there.”
It makes a hometown boy feel right at home.