There aren’t too many people on this planet who can say they’re on a list of one, who can say they’re the only ones to ever achieve a specific feat.
Bridger Chambers is one of those people. And it’s a pretty interesting feat.
You see, along with being a rodeo stud, the 6-foot-5-inch Chambers is also a pretty good basketball player. And in his senior year at the University of Montana Western, in 2012, he was the sixth man on a team that reached the NAIA national basketball tournament. Later that same year, Chambers qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in team roping.
To his knowledge, and that of many rodeo writers here in the media room at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, no one else in the history of sport can claim to have played in a national championship basketball tournament and competed in the college level’s most prestigious rodeo in the same year.
“I know there were others in college who rodeoed and played basketball,” Chambers said. “In fact, Brad Gleason played at Montana Western with my dad, and Brad won the steer wrestling world title in 1997.”
But Gleason couldn’t match Chambers’ feat of being in the hunt for a national basketball title and a college rodeo crown in the same year.
“I guess I was very fortunate that way. I was on a very good basketball team,” Chambers said, noting he and his teammates also made the NAIA tournament his junior year. “And team roping wasn’t an individual effort either. I had another guy, Chase Briggs, helping me. So I’m thankful for him, too.”
In hoops, Chambers’ squad reached the Sweet 16 in that 2012 tourney. He and Briggs didn’t place in the College NFR, but he never dwelled on it, choosing to focus on the positive.
“It was just a great experience, all the way around,” said Briggs, who is now having a solid week in his first-ever Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, though as a long, lanky steer wrestler, rather than a team roper.
On Thursday night, he took second in the eighth go-round with a 3.8-second effort for a $20,731 check, boosting his Wrangler NFR winnings to $65,212 and his season earnings to $146,390. He hopes he’s not done cashing checks this week, with two more go-rounds remaining.
“I don’t know what other people are gonna do, but I’m gonna run at the barrier every night and try to win as much money as I can,” Chambers said. “Guys go broke trying to get here. Now, you want to cash them checks, pay off them bills.”
And although this is just his first trip to Vegas, Chambers’ success this week makes it seem pretty likely that he’ll be back here again, going for the gold buckle. You might say it’s a slam dunk.