The 80th Poly Royal Rodeo will have to wait. Due to Covid-19 concerns, one of the biggest rodeos in California and the 2020 Cal Poly Rodeo season have been canceled, but the program is already looking forward to 2021.
"This is something that happens. We don't have a lot of control over it,” Ben Londo, head coach of the Cal Poly Rodeo, has stressed this message to his athletes since the abrupt end of the season.
"The cancellation of Poly Royal is a huge hit to our student-athletes. We're not alone. This is felt nationwide,” Londo said. “It's something we've got to do for the health and safety of our nation, but it definitely tugs at the heartstrings of these students that have worked so hard, to not only plan and implement and get prepared for our rodeo that we put on, but to put in a good season. Cutting that short is a big hit."
The program has around 80 student-athletes, and rodeo isn’t the easiest sport to get out and practice.
"The sport of rodeo is a little different. When we shut down our practice facility, which is world class, the student-athletes are on their own to replicate that for themselves,” Londo said. “It's tough. It's not just pick up a ball, head to a field, and get some practice in. But these students are resourceful. They can practice at home, practice at the neighbors; they'll make it work."
While Londo says missing out on the Poly Royal, which is the biggest fundraiser for the program, bringing in roughly 15,000 fans each night, the program is optimistic looking forward.
"We've got a really strong support circle: our boosters, our fans, and our sponsors,” Londo said. “So many of our sponsors were excited to be a part of our rodeo this year. Now that we've canceled and offered them a refund, a lot of them have said, 'No, put that towards the program. Put that towards what you guys have to do to make this year work. We'll see you again next year.' We're super thankful of all the support and help we get."