CommunityAthlete of the Week


Q2 AOW: Bull fighter, Miles Community College rodeo coach Sylvan La Cross a man of many hats

Sylvan La Cross Bull Fighting
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 26, 2024

MILES CITY — As Cowboy Christmas — professional rodeo's richest stretch of the regular season — looms less than a week away, Q2’s Athlete of the Week knows he'll be logging miles. But not as a competitor.

Sylvan La Cross is a man of many hats. Among them: professional bull fighter, teacher and head rodeo coach at Miles Community College.

“We help take care of the facilities; we’ve got livestock we take care of," La Cross explained to MTN Sports at the MCC rodeo grounds. "Then on top of things, I am helping develop these kids in different aspects within the arena as announcers, bull fighters, pickup men and learning how to operate a rodeo in its entirety.”

Which is clearly proven by what his students have accomplished, including operating a high school rodeo in its entirety.

La Cross doesn’t stop there. In fact, he cranks up the intensity during what you might call his free time.

“You know, I’ve wanted to fight bulls since I was real little,” he admitted.

After riding bareback in college and then on the PRCA circuit, about 10 years ago the Baker native thought he'd better chase his childhood dream before the clock ticked down. In doing so, La Cross has gained insightful perspective on the art of bull fighting.

“I think reading the wreck before it happens," he said. "It’s going to be fast and wild like all sports are, but once you get trained and become better at it, that stuff slows down for you.”

This week La Cross is fighting bulls at the Junior High National Finals Rodeo in Des Moines, Iowa. Next week he'll do the same at PRCA rodeos in both North Dakota and Minnesota during the Cowboy Christmas run.

Truth is, the multi-talented mentor even steps in to fight bulls at a lot of his college team’s own rodeos, both home and away. Professionally, he’s also worked the Montana Circuit Finals in a role he attributes to a higher calling.

“Evidently, that’s where I needed to be because getting on a bareback horse was a whole different mindset and fighting bulls," La Cross said. "I can walk in there — as I do at practice — and save somebody, if needed. So, it’s just a calling.”

Ultimately, his heart lies with his rodeo team. Champion Arena in Miles City is almost home for some of his 26 students.

“We’re extremely fortunate. We’ve got classrooms in here ... so, ag classes, equine classes are all held right out here along with rodeo practice every day of the week,” he said of the confines.

Proof that his heart lies with his rodeo program, students and peers across the region recently voted La Cross Big Sky Region Coach of the Year.

It's clear the coach pours all he has into his team, meaning who knows which hat he’ll wear next?

“Well, it depends on the weather," he said with a laugh. "I’ll either wear this one (a cowboy hat), a ball cap or a flapper cap.”