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Convoy coach Cody Ohl on Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo: “This is going to be huge”

Kid Rock's Rock N Rodeo takes over AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on May 17.


FORT WORTH, Texas – One of the more unique aspects of Western sports is that an athlete can ascend to the elite levels of competition without ever getting much coaching.
Maybe from a parent. Perhaps they attend clinics held by rodeo greats. But unlike most other sports, rodeo doesn’t have formal coaching.
Cody Ohl hopes Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo changes that.
Ohl is a six-time PRCA world champion, winning five world championships in tie-down roping and one all-around. He was the 1994 Rookie of the Year, only missed one Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification from 1994-2014, and crossed $3 million in earnings in 2012.
He’s also the head coach of the Convoy, one of the six teams competing at Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo on Friday, May 17, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Each of the six head coaches leads a team of rodeo athletes they drafted, two in each discipline. The teams will compete head-to-head in barrel racing, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling and breakaway roping. Using a format similar to drag racing, each discipline will see two competitors performing their sport simultaneously, competing for the best time.
There are four total rounds of competition. Rounds 1, 2 and 3 will consist of each discipline in an elimination bracket. Round 4 will feature the two teams with the most discipline bracket wins facing off head-to-head to determine which team is the event champion.
For some of these athletes, it may be the first time they’ve received any real coaching.
Ohl recalls a memorable conversation he had with Shelby Boisjoli-Meged, a breakaway roper he drafted to the Convoy.
“There were just a couple of things I thought she could do better, and I reached out to her this winter,” said Ohl, who studies the major rodeos on the Cowboy Channel each night. “And she was like, ‘I’ve never had really a whole lot of help. From my parents, I got that.’ But some of the things I told her, she was really, really thankful for it. And, ‘What do I need to do to win this world championship in Vegas (at the WNFR)?’ And I was like, ‘First off, just be you. If you just go out there and rope and be you, I promise it’s going to be enough. So don’t go out there and get caught up in what they’re doing. You just go do you, and I promise you, it’ll be enough.’”
For some athletes, it really is that simple. Ohl says he gives daily private lessons, and with the top-level athletes, he doesn’t even call them lessons.
“I don’t call it a lesson with the top people – I call it a tune-up, because that’s what it is,” Ohl said. “I can literally fix somebody in five minutes if they’ll listen and it’s not something major.”
Ohl took some time to warm up to the team concept of Western sports when the PBR Camping World Team Series first launched in 2022.
But when he saw how it affected the athletes, he was all in.
“When the team PBR first started, I was kind of on the fence about it,” Ohl said. “But as I got to witness how it was changing things – I knew some riders that just rode decent that the team concept (changed), having great guys in your ear and supporting you and pushing you and telling you things that normally they wouldn’t tell you because they’re competing against you head-to-head versus being on a team. It’s changed those guys that had never had a coach. They just had some talent and could ride, but now they’re getting some guidance. They’re also getting guidance on their business side of things, too. So it’s huge.
“So when we decided to go with this concept of rodeo, I’m like, ‘Wow. This is going to be huge.’ Because a lot of guys think they already don’t need coaching. They think they’re that good, so until they realize how good this could be, they’ll realize what an asset it is to be able to have access to us.”
On draft day, Ohl tried to pick athletes who he thought would take his wisdom to heart. Some, like Boisjoli-Meged and tie-down roper Riley Webb, have stood out to Ohl as being particularly open to it.
Some others haven’t, and Ohl cautions any rodeo athlete who thinks they can simply stay the course and win.
“With my career, I always listened,” Ohl said. “I always was there watching. I always wanted to learn more. And then that’s where I’m at today in, for instance, breakaway. It changes all the time. Those girls figure out a way to be a tenth faster, a tenth faster, a tenth faster, whether it’s changing their rope, changing their swing. And there’s some that just stay the course, and I said, ‘You’ve got to change. They’ve figured this game out. They know how to tweak a few things to be faster.’ And like I said, I watch it every night. I study it. I’m like, ‘You need to move your horse over a little more, and you get a faster throw by one swing.’ Just little bitty things that I see. And a lot of them are super appreciative of it. Some of them, I don’t even know. We’ve never met. But they’re good ropers. They just need to change a couple things. And I’ll just say, ‘Hey, I don’t know you from Adam, but if you will do this, I promise you, you will be amazed.’”
The format of Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo is unique in that athletes will compete head-to-head in drag race-style competition. Athletes are used to being alone in the arena, so Ohl also wanted to pick people he knew could stand up under that head-to-head pressure.
“I was real confident in picking people that were confident in themselves,” Ohl said. “Because I competed in a side-by-side deal. I know that there’s a distraction of wanting to glance up and see if the other person’s beating you or is ahead of you. I want somebody that’s confident in themselves that they’re going to make the fastest, best run they can and not worry about what else is going on. So that was a big deal.”
Ohl ended up with a roster comprised of bareback riders Tilden Hooper and Dean Thompson, barrel racers Stevi Hillman and Tessa Arnold, breakaway ropers Boisjoli-Meged and Sarah Angelone, saddle bronc riders Gus Gaillard and Layton Green, steer wrestlers Jesse Brown and JD Struxness, tie-down ropers Webb and Ty Harris, and team ropers Dustin Egusquiza/Levi Lord and Clay Smith/Coleby Payne.
“I just think these people on my team, on everybody’s team – I think they need to come with their best,” Ohl said. “I’m not sure they know how big this could get for them. There’s some great ropers that don’t even like to go rodeo and be gone – they’re at the top of the world, but they don’t want to be gone and don’t like to travel. They need to realize how big this could be and how big of a blessing it could be to them to have more of these events, and be on a team, and make good money, and hopefully some outside sponsor money comes into this deal, too.”
Ohl has a mutual friend with Kid Rock, so he knew him a little bit before the rodeo ever came together. But in getting to know him better, Ohl says he’s down-to-earth and 100% into his namesake rodeo.
Kid Rock will be performing within the event, and Ohl thinks this development means only good things for the sport and the athletes.
“I think this is awesome,” Ohl said. “Anytime a concert and all that’s involved, it just adds extra stuff to a rodeo. We’re trying to change things. We’re trying to make it better.”
Photo courtesy of Todd Brewer/Bull Stock Media