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June 13, 2024 3 min read

From Wakeboarding Prodigy to Rodeo Maverick 

Rocker Steiner's life story reads like a blueprint for breaking away from tradition and carving one’s unique path. Growing up, Rocker defied convention by dropping out of school in the fourth grade to dedicate himself to wakeboarding, a decision that would eventually earn him the title of world champion at the young age of 13.   

Training in Orlando, Florida, Rocker immersed himself in the world of wakeboarding. Competing from the age of 7, he rapidly ascended to prominence, with his father, a former wakeboarder and steer wrestler, guiding him. Wakeboarding on different mediums — cable lakes and boats — Rocker gained unparalleled skills and diverse experiences, setting the stage for his remarkable athletic career. 

Embracing Authentic Experience over Formal Education 

Rocker's journey wasn't solely marked by his athletic prowess but also by a unique philosophy towards learning. He emphasized practical experience over traditional education, advocating for allowing children to pursue their passions. This notion resonated deeply during his conversation with host Chad Ward, who shared similar values of authenticity and creativity. 

Rocker credited his father for being a significant supporter, referring to himself as a sort of "experiment" in dedication and hard work. Such a supportive environment fostered his unconventional path and ultimately prepared him for future challenges. 

The Transition to Rodeo and the Influence of Legends  

After his success in wakeboarding, Rocker transitioned to bareback riding, a journey marked by rigorous preparation and relentless practice. Under the tutelage of legends like Ty Murray, Rocker honed his skills for five years before even entering a competition. His commitment to practice and physical development was unparalleled, opting to wait until the age of 16, when he had developed the necessary strength, to start his rodeo career. 

Rocker's first competition came on his 18th birthday, a culmination of years of dedicated practice and preparation. His story underscores the value of patience and commitment in mastering a craft. 

Dedication, Injury, and the Road to Recovery 

Rocker Steiner's rodeo journey has not been without its share of hardships. His competitive drive often pushed him into situations causing severe injuries. He recounts breaking both feet, tearing his PCL, and separating a rib, sometimes requiring him to compete under extreme pain. 

Notably, Rocker shared an incident at St. Paul, where after getting heavily intoxicated, he broke both his feet, an obstacle he faced with determination by continuing to train despite being in a wheelchair.   

Authenticity and Influence 

Authenticity has been a recurring theme in Rocker's life, whether it’s in the decision to compete with Larry Mahan’s spurs or the self-expression he prides himself on. Such genuine expressions have even led to meaningful connections with iconic figures like Kid Rock. While sponsorships and branding play significant roles in Rocker’s career, he insists on staying true to the products and brands he represents, resonating with host Chad Ward’s values.   

The importance of creative ownership and being part of the process extends beyond his sports career into every aspect of his life.

Making an Impact in the Rodeo World 

Rocker’s influence on the rodeo world is palpable. By emphasizing the importance of his first rodeo and the excitement that surrounds competition, he continues to inspire young, aspiring rodeo athletes. He has also been a proponent of starting bareback riding at a stronger physical stage to avoid premature burnout and injuries, offering sage advice for those looking to follow in his path. 

Rocker has shown that being different and embracing one's unique style not only sets one apart but also paves the way for significant contributions to the sport. His readiness to discuss the potential for growing bareback riding highlights his vision for the future of the sport.   

Conclusion: A Testament to Passion and Perseverance   

The discussion between Chad Ward and Rocker Steiner on the Ol' Boy Podcast is a testament to the dedication, passion, and authenticity required to excel in any field. From breaking records in wakeboarding to making his mark in the rodeo world, Rocker's journey encapsulates the spirit of perseverance. 

By championing the value of real-world experience over traditional education, embracing authenticity, and persevering through adversity, Rocker Steiner continues to inspire and redefine success on his terms. 

Listen Here  

"If you work hard enough, like, you're the guy that, like, the people you look up to can become your friends if you get to their level."— Rocker Steiner 

3 Fun Facts About Rocker Steiner  

  1. Rocker Steiner's unconventional approach to rodeo included practicing with good practice horses for five years before entering competitions.
  2. Rocker Steiner shared a humorous story of getting heavily intoxicated, trying to enter a bar, getting caught, jumping off a roof, and breaking both his feet, leading to an eventful recovery period.
  3. Rocker Steiner and Kid Rock are friends, having bonded over mutual interests and playful pranks, including one involving fake Rolex watches. 

Where to Follow Rocker Steiner