For Patrick Smith and his family, rodeo was more than a sport—it was a way of life.
“I think that it began with me,” said Patrick’s father, Ben Smith, who competed in rodeo as well in his youth. “Hearing me talk about it and going to rodeos together. He wanted to be a part of it.”
Patrick started competing in Alabama High School Rodeo Association events, finding success as a bareback rider. Soon the family was traveling around the country competing in rodeo events and becoming a part of the close-knit community of high school rodeo athletes and their families.
“We just loved it,” said Patrick’s mother, Angela Moore Maxwell. “It was really a family-oriented thing. Many of the friends we made back then are still my friends today.”
Patrick carried his love of rodeo with him to college when he enrolled at then Troy State University. He was among the founding members when TROY started a rodeo team in 2002 and was set to compete with the team that fall when tragedy struck. Patrick died following an accident during a rodeo event in Tennessee in February of that year.
In the aftermath of this tragic event, Patrick’s family sought to honor their son’s memory and support the TROY rodeo by establishing the Patrick Smith Endowed Scholarship for Rodeo, which provided scholarships to members of the rodeo team.
“We just wanted to help kids keep doing what they loved and go to school at the same time,” Angela said.
For more than a decade TROY competed in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, and Patrick’s parents remained active supporters of the program. Angela said several of the athletes even lived with her at various times over the years. The TROY Rodeo program ended in 2014 after a careful review of revenue, expenses, number of participants and risk management.
Now, the scholarship has been revamped and expanded. It now supports any student in Alabama who has participated in high school rodeo and who plans to attend Troy University. If there are no applicants with a background in rodeo, the scholarship may also go to applicants from the State of Alabama who are pursuing a teaching degree in the College of Education.
Ben Smith said he is glad to see the scholarship once again benefiting TROY students.
“I hope it will provide an education for someone who wouldn’t have ordinarily been able to go to school,” he said.
Apply for the scholarship online at https://troy.academicworks.com/ or call (334) 670-3608 for more information or to contribute to the scholarship fund.