Dantan Bertsch is the new assistant rodeo coach for Casper College.

Bertsch is no stranger to Casper or the Casper College rodeo team. A 2015 graduate, Bertsch earned his A.S. in agri-business and rodeoed for three seasons under Tom Parker. “My time at Casper College was the best three years of my life,” says Bertsch.

During his time as a Thunderbird, he competed in both saddle bronc and bareback his first two years and bareback his final year. Concentrating on one event proved to be a wise choice as Bertsch was the 2015 Casper College High Point Champion, the 2015 Central Rocky Mountain Region Bareback Champion and a 2015 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Finals Qualifier. At the end of the 2015 collegiate rodeo season, Bertsch was ranked fifth in bareback in North America.

Leaving his family in Saskatchewan, Canada, and coming to Casper College allowed Bertsch to improve in rodeo. “Casper was a different area, and I was away from my family and able to focus on rodeo and school, and discover a whole other point of view. Coming to Casper helped my rodeoing so much,” he says.

On his selection as the new assistant rodeo coach, Bertsch wants “to be that guy that can help the next generation of rodeo contestants.” Bertsch credits his growth in the sport to the many opportunities he was afforded at Casper. “I enjoyed my time and am thankful for every opportunity I was given. The changes I made during my three years at Casper College were just unbelievable, and I want to help the younger generation have those same opportunities I had to change and grow.”

Bertsch will bring with him the point of view of a younger professional rodeo competitor. Since graduating, he has competed professionally and is a member of both the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. He saw success in 2016 in the arena, becoming the 2016 Tabor Pro Rodeo Champion and the 2016 All-American Rodeo Champion as well as a 2016 All-American Pro Rodeo Finals Qualifier and a 2016 Canadian Finals Rodeo Qualifier. In November 2016 Bertsch was runner-up at the Canadian Western Agribition.

Angel Sharman, Casper College athletic director, has nothing but praise for the new assistant: “Dantan knows what it takes to be successful in the rodeo arena, and he wants to see our athletes get better.” Sharman also notes Bertsch’s experience in rough stock events and his strong work ethic. “I believe that Dantan will bring that experience and that work ethic to our future rough stock riders.”

“I am aware of the changes occurring in rodeo and where it is going. As the younger guy, I hope to help our rodeo kids adapt to the changes, and I want them to feel that they can talk to me like a friend,” Bertsch says, adding, “I will be able to show and tell them how riding styles are changing in the sport of rodeo.”

Bertsch’s love for rodeo, and bareback riding, in particular, started at a young age. He learned his way around cattle and horses on the family ranch. As a bonus, he was also able to learn bareback riding from his father, who competed in bareback. “My dad helped me get started, and showed me the ropes. Ranching and rodeo were a family affair,” he recalls.

It was during his last season at Casper College that Jhett Johnson, the 2011 World Champion Team Roper along with Turtle Powell, came on as the assistant rodeo coach. Johnson would be the first to admit at the time that rough stock was not his area of expertise. Despite that, the professional heeler would always “be there to give advice and help with the rough stock. Coach Johnson was always there to help. We get along really well, and I think that it will be an awesome experience to work with him,” Bertsch says.

Johnson, new head coach for the rodeo team, is looking forward to working with Bertsch as well. The addition of Bertsch as the assistant will provide the Thunderbirds with well-rounded coaching “on both ends of the arena. Dantan rodeoed for Casper and was a champion in and out of the arena. I’m very excited to have him working alongside me,” says Johnson.

Bertsch will join Johnson and the team in late August.