Donning brimmed hats, boots and determination, Aggies have competed in rodeos across the state and nation since 1919. The Texas Aggie Rodeo team officially assembled in 1949 under the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) but has seen little university funding in the years since.
For the past 25 years, Dr. Al Wagner ’69 has volunteered his time to serve as Aggie Rodeo coach without compensation. Despite being unpaid, the NIRA named him the 2016 collegiate Rodeo Coach of the Year, recognizing his passion and dedication.
Now, former students are rallying behind their beloved coach to create the Dr. Al Wagner ’69 Texas A&M Rodeo Coach Endowment. The $1 million fund will finance a paid coaching position for the team so Wagner can retire knowing the university’s rodeo tradition is in good hands. More than $150,000 has already been committed from rodeo alumni like former Aggie Rodeo President Bret Richards ’01, who was directly affected by Wagner’s mentorship.
“He takes a genuine interest in every student he mentors and took the program from nothing to a successful team that supports its students,” Richards enthused. “It’s time we celebrate him for the mark he’s made. Without Dr. Wagner, there wouldn’t be a rodeo program today.”
In addition to one-time donations, interested donors can commit a “5 for 25” pledge—recurring gifts of $5,000 per year for five years. The Texas Aggie Rodeo Alumni Association hopes to fully fund the endowment by the end of 2022, with excess funds financing a permanent arena for members to stall their horses and practice on their own time.
Even after his eventual retirement, Wagner will remain in College Station and promises to be a familiar face at every Aggie rodeo event. “I’m not going anywhere; I’ve been here too long,” he said with a chuckle. “These are some great kids with a ton of heart and talent. I’ll be here to advise and cheer them on when they need it.”
Show your support for Texas Aggie Rodeo by committing a “5 for 25” pledge. To get started, contact Scott Jarvis ’00, director of development, at the bottom of this page. You can also give an online gift to the team at the button below.
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