On June 20-22, 1947, the very first Texas State High School Championship Rodeo was held. It featured a total of 121 entries, with athletes competing in just two events - Tie Down Roping and Breakaway Roping. Impressively, the rodeo drew contestants from across the state of Texas. The response to the new rodeo event was staggering and before long, a large amount of interest in the high school sport was generated in other states as well. In 1948, the state of New Mexico offered a similar rodeo event and that was then followed up in 1949 by productions in Louisiana, Montana and South Dakota.
With such an amazing response across several states, the next step, naturally, was to create a National High School Rodeo. The very first national finals was organized and held in Hallettsville in August of 1949. To qualify, students had to be the winners in state rodeos, or the first four in each event entering from states where a high school rodeo had not been held.
It was also at this rodeo that the National High School Rodeo Association was officially formed. Claude Mullins was elected as the Association’s first President and Alton Allen was elected into the initial Secretary position. The men would eventually hold these positions for the first five years of the NHSRA’s existence. In 1954, though both men had been re-elected to their positions, they each decided to decline the offer in order to help encourage more individuals to get involved within the Association. Bob Russell of Fife, Texas, who would later go on to become Missouri’s National Director for twenty years, was elected into the first Student President’s position in 1949. It was also decided that the location of the National Finals would rotate among member states.
Always an educator at-heart, Mullins ensured that a precise formula for eligibility was indoctrinated into the Association.
“The rules were strict in the state and national rodeo,” he once wrote. “Each student was certified by his school principal as being a ‘regular student,’ passing his school work, of good character, and meeting the age requirement. There were no entry fees. But many valuable prizes and college scholarships were offered.