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Sierra High grad gets rush from bull riding
Randy Schaapman holds on as a bull bucks up and attempts to throw him to the ground. - photo by Photo Contributed
Eight seconds is all that Randy Schaapman thinks about.

The Sierra High School graduate – who is now touring California on his first year as a member of the California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association – is trying to dig his spurs into the world of competitive bull riding.

It’s not exactly an easy way to spend one’s time, but Schaapman, who spends his days working on a ranch and a dairy, not only loves it but hopes to make it a permanent part of his routine – with ambitions of reaching the sport’s grandest stage.

“I just love the adrenaline rush that comes with it and the excitement,” Schaapman said of what he gets out of it. “When I pull that rope tight and get ready for the gate to open, I’m just thinking about staying on my bull and making those eight seconds.

“That’s what this is all about.”

The former 4.0 student has had an itch for bull riding ever since he was a little kid, and with friends making their way into the sport he opted five years ago to throw his hat into the ring and see if he had what it takes.

What he ended up getting was a new obsession.

After competing in two rodeo events as a high school junior, Schaapman eventually graduated and traveled around entering open bull riding competitions with the hope of making a mark that would earn him a spot on a tour.

Now that he’s into a professional circuit, he has his eyes fixed on the ultimate dream of being selected as a member of the Professional Bull Riders Inc. – or the PBR.

“There are some weeks where I’m competing against cowboys that were on TV the week before but had some downtime so they’re trying to stay fresh,” he said. “That’s ultimately my goal – making in a tour where I’d get to travel the entire country competing in what I love to do.”

But it takes more than just guts to succeed in a sport where mounting a deadly animal on a regular basis is just business as usual.

Four days a week Schaapman is on the road to Escalon, Oakdale, or Newman for a chance to take his turn on a bull that only wants to get the cowboy grabbing onto his back off of him at all costs.

Just because it’s practice doesn’t mean that it’s playtime.

“At practice we get on the same caliber bulls that we’d ride in any event,” he said. “They’re some really rank bulls – they still buck hard and they still turn back hard and that’s what you need when you’re getting ready.”

Schaapman competed in the annual La Grange Rodeo this past weekend and was part of the cowboy crew that didn’t register a single scored ride on a bull for the entire day – something that he had never seen happen in competition before.

But with a full schedule coming up – including a stop at Oakdale, which has been his favorite arena since he registered a score of 91 there – there are plenty of other chances to make his case for CCPRA Rookie of the Year.

“I love this sport, but most of all I love the fans,” Schaapman said. “The way that they cheer for you after you make those eight seconds – all that adrenaline is pumping and it just makes it that much more intense.

“You really couldn’t ask for a better group of people to come out and show their support. They do it at every stop.”