Jake Bewley has a plan. The recent Marana grad is going to go to Cochise College and earn a degree in aircraft welding. It is a degree that lands you in a field with a lot of demand, but Bewley hopes he never has to use it.
Bewley would rather earn his living in rodeo, the sport he will compete in at Cochise. While many parents might balk at their son not taking the safe path and pursuing a tough profession, Bewley’s parents are on board. After all, his father, Spark Bewley, was a rodeo professional and helped him find a spot on the Cochise team.
“My father was a professional saddle bronc rider in the 80s mostly, so I’ve just been around it my whole life,” Bewley explained.
Back then, his father competed with Rick Smith. Smith is now the coach Cochise College, so it was a natural fit for Jake.
Bewley has been around the sport his entire life, but started really getting into it when he was 9 years old. His father works at the Marana Stockyards. Not only did his father help him, but Clay Parsons, a former rodeo champ himself, also proved to be a mentor for Bewley.
One thing Bewley is working on now is knocking off some rust. Bewley has never stopped competing but the sport has taken a backseat to football and wrestling since Jake started high school at Marana.
“I wanted him to experience playing high school sports so I did not pressure him to do rodeo,” the elder Bewley said.
Bewley is a part of the Gladden family on his mother’s side. He is the fourth generation to graduate from Marana High School and the third to play football for the Tigers.
Bewley feels that rodeo was a perfect sport to prepare him for the rigors of football and wrestling, even if the skill sets are quite different. He feels the physicality of his rodeo events toughened him up for football. Wrestling and rodeo were more alike.
“Wrestling and rodeo definitely go hand in hand,” Bewley said. “As far as my events go at least. Because rodeo is most definitely not a team sport. So the individuality comes from wrestling. The training part works perfectly. From running long distances to doing quick reflex drills like jumping rope or monkey rolls. Really any type of training that makes you react quick and precise. So wrestling is absolutely one of the best cross training sports.”
Long term, Bewley would like to do all three rough stock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding, but his emphasis at Cochise will likely be saddle broncs.
He is still shaking off the rodeo rust from scaling back while playing high school sports, but he is making strides to getting where he wants to be. After spending much of his youth as a bull rider he has put the emphasis the past few years at riding saddle broncs, which will be his college event.
“He’s still working at it,” Spark Bewley said. “But he’s a natural athlete.”
Bewley looked at studying fire science, but that degree was not offered at the Douglas campus he will be attending next year. He turned to aircraft welding, but as long as he is not behind a desk, he will be happy.
“I’ve always wanted to work with my hands,” said Bewley. “Sitting behind a desk, looking at a computer screen never appealed to me. And welding jobs are never short, especially a specialized one such as aircraft welding.”
Bewley is leaving the door open to pursue a fire sciences degree after he leaves Cochise, but he hopes that won’t be necessary. What he’d rather do is continue to compete in rodeo as a professional.
“The welding degree will be there but my goal is I’ll never have to use it,” Bewley said. “I have the best resources I could ask for and my parents support me 100 percent. I have every opportunity at Cochise to become the best and I will take advantage of that full force.”
Many high school graduates have a plan for the future, but few have a plan, a back-up plan and a third fall back plan. Thanks to rodeo Bewley has just that.