Tarleton to induct five into rodeo hall of fame

Tarleton is inducting five into its rodeo hall of fame. || Courtesy Tarleton Media Relations

Tarleton State University

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University’s Rodeo Hall of Fame celebrates the induction of five new members during the sixth annual steak dinner and auction Saturday, Nov. 12, at the City Hall venue at City Limits.

Inductees are Richard “Tooter” Waites, Ronnie Ray, Levi Garcia, Kurt Kiehne and Debbie Garison.

The annual steak dinner and auction, which benefits the Tarleton Rodeo Program’s scholarship fund, begins at 6 p.m. with an auction reception and preview mixer at the City Hall venue, followed by the Rodeo Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 7 p.m., dinner and a live auction.

Admission to the event is $40 per person and includes dinner. Tickets are available for purchase through the day of the induction ceremony and auction, or by contacting the Office of Rodeo Activities at 254-968-9344 or 254-968-9187.


About this year’s Rodeo Hall of Fame inductees:

Debbie Garison
Garison competed in the barrels and goat tying her freshman and sophomore years for Tarleton rodeo. She would always hold a special place in her heart for the school and rodeo program and, as such, is not only a great ambassador of Tarleton’s rodeo program and sport of rodeo, in general, she would come back as a key asset and supporter of the school’s rodeo team. Donations and support brought by Garison was instrumental in building the practice facilities that the rodeo team calls home.

Levi Garcia
A national champion team roper in 2000, Garcia joined Tarleton rodeo coach Bob Doty after a successful run at Vernon Junior College. Growing up in a small New Mexico town, Garcia earned a scholarship to Vernon Junior College, where he caught the eye of Doty. He graduated from Tarleton with a business management degree before turning pro and ultimately winning the 2006 Turquoise Circuit team roping title with partner Russell Sullivan. Currently living in Seguin, Texas with his wife Amy and kids Levi Jr. and Harper, Garcia works for the San Antonio Division of EOG Resources.

Kurt Kiehne
Kiehne, a Tarleton student from 1998 to 2001 after transferring from New Mexico Junior College, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. Competing in calf roping and team roping, he qualified all four years of his college rodeo career for the CNFR, in both events. In 2000, Kiehne with his partner Levi Garcia won the team roping average. Additionally, Kiehne placed fourth in the calf roping and finished second in the all-around. Kiehne, a sales representative for Animal Health International, now lives in Canyon, Texas with his wife of nine years Regina and their four-year-old son Kole.

Ronnie Ray
The first official head coach of the Tarleton rodeo team, Ray served in that capacity from 1982 to 1989. Under Ray’s tutelage, Tarleton sent multiple teams to the CNFR and individual national championships were won. With the help of then school President Dr. Barry B. Thompson, Ray recruited and built the team to over 100 student-athletes. Ray’s hard work and dedication formed the foundation for the rodeo program’s success that carries on today.

Richard “Tooter” Waites
Tooter competed on the Tarleton rodeo team from 1969-1973, competing in calf roping and steer wrestling. While at Tarleton Tooter had great success in the arena, qualifying in both events for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR). He went on to twice win calf roping at the CNFR. Also being the first person to qualify for the CNFR and the National Finals Rodeo in the same year. Respected by his peers, and his willingness to help anyone he can, Tooter went on to have a career training and showing horses in the American Quarter Horse Association. Waites is also member of the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Now residing in Burleson, Texas, he continues to follow his passion of training roping horses, and spending time with his grandchildren.


Tarleton’s renowned rodeo program is known for having some of the toughest and most talented student competitors among National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association members. To celebrate their achievements during the past 69 years, the Rodeo Hall of Fame was established in 2012 to recognize some of the cowboys and cowgirls who have brought notoriety to the sport and university.

Competing for the purple and white under the motto, “A Winning Tradition,” Tarleton’s rodeo teams have won seven national championship titles, 24 individual national championships and numerous NIRA Southwest Region titles since the program was established in 1947.

In 2016-17, Tarleton boasted one of the largest collegiate rodeo teams in the nation with 128 card-holding student members.

To nominate individuals for future inclusion into the Tarleton Rodeo Hall of Fame, visit www.tarleton.edu/rodeo/hall-of-fame.html.


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