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NMSU rodeo coach named NIRA Coach of the Year

New Mexico State University Rodeo Coach Jim Dewey Brown was named the 2007 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Coach of the Year at the 59th College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 10-16 in Casper, Wyo.

New Mexico State University Rodeo Coach Jim Dewey Brown, second from right, received the Coach of the Year award at this year's College National Finals Rodeo. (Courtesy photo by Susan Kanode)

"It's pretty cool," Brown said of his honor. "I have a lot of friends who have won it. It means a lot to have the kids behind you and get recognition from them."

Brown, who has been coaching at NMSU for five years, was raised on a ranch in central New Mexico. Following in his father's footsteps, he competed in saddle bronc riding and received a rodeo scholarship to Tarleton State University.

While attending Tarleton, Brown pursued a bachelor's degree in animal science, and later, a master's degree in agriculture. He qualified for the CNFR in 1999 and 2000, and it was while he was rodeoing for Coach Bob Doty that he decided he wanted to be a college rodeo coach.

"He was there no matter what. If you had problems with rodeo, school, personal, anything you needed he was there," Brown said of Doty.

The valuable lessons Brown learned from Doty continue to influence the NMSU Rodeo Team today. Brown's wife Shawna said that her husband is much more than just a coach.

"He's a father, a leader, a mentor, a mediator and a tutor," Shawna explained. "Sometimes he's a shoulder to lean on. Our home is open to any of the students. Elise, our daughter, thinks of at least half of the team as family."

The good relationship between the coach and his students can be seen in the success of the rodeo team. They have had five women's and three men's regional champions, and the 2006 national champion team roping heeler, Matt Garza, came from NMSU.

The rodeo students also have been successful academically under Coach Brown, with a cumulative GPA of 2.95.

"I'm not easy on them. I have no sympathy if they don't get to class. I busted my butt to get my degrees and I know what it takes," Brown said.

The Browns have worked hard to increase sponsorship and support from the university and the community for the team. The university athletic department now recognizes the students as athletes, and the community gave $16,000 to the program.

This year at the CNFR, the women's team finished eighth overall, with Bailey Gow placing fourth overall in barrel racing and Brooklyn Chester placing 15th overall in breakaway roping.

On the men's team, Dean Daly placed fifth overall in saddle bronc. Team roping partners JoDan Mirabal, header, and Aaron Shelley, heeler, placed 13th overall. Clay Acuna and Wacey Walraven placed 11th and 16th overall, respectively, in tie-down roping.