Face to Face with Cody Teel

July is a historically good, but tough month for Cody Teel. Last year on July 21, he won $100,000 and the title of CBR World Champion in a slippery mud filled arena in Cheyenne. Teel rode all five of his draws, four of them with a fractured foot, to win the title that had eluded him since joining the Road to Cheyenne tour in 2011 when he burst on the scene winning his first event in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Three days ago on July 17, 2016, he won $100,000 by riding two bulls in the final round of Canada’s premier rodeo, the Calgary Stampede. The Stampede, the rodeo most cowboys refer to as the richest regular season rodeo of the year, didn’t start out great for the CBR’s reigning World Champion, he rode a few and bucked off a few and ended up needing advance thru the Wildcard round, which he won, to get to the big money round.

Putting on what some call his “Rocky Balboa” face, Cody Teel of Kountze, Texas most definitely wins the prize for the best warm up win heading into this year’s 2016 CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“When the odds are against him, he comes out swinging,” said CBR Chief Executive Officer Benny Cude.  

But the Calgary Sun best described Cody Teel’s Calgary Stampede championship win on Sunday.

“It’s not often that the Calgary Stampede’s final four bull riding turns into a last-man standing competition. But Cody Teel happened to be the only rider that was able to hang on on this particularly slippery Sunday.”

But the two wins have more in common than the month of July and the purse. Cody Teel had to ride past what most consider the top bull riders in the world at both events to get those two historic wins; he won both titles in extremely wet weather and soggy arena conditions and he won both by beating the odds that he could beat the two other World Champions occupying the chutes on either side of him.  

“All those guys in the four-man... they’re all top-caliber bull riders,” said the 24-year-old with a smile. “You don’t expect any of them to get bucked off. When that happens, it’s almost surprising. But I was able to pull through and get the win. It means a lot.”

But Teel’s win is no surprise to the fans that follow his journey.

In 2015 he had to ride all three bulls and score higher than the other contenders in Del Rio, the last event of the regular season, where they were battling for the top spot going into the CBR World Finals. Game face on, he did. He mounted Penny Lover, a bull that had bucked him off each and every time before, and scored on him to garner the 33 point advantage he enjoyed going into last year’s grudge match at the World Finals.

After winning the CBR World Championship Teel used the momentum and proceeded to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in December in seventh place, with $83,018 in money earned on the season. He was over $93,000 behind the leader. With his Balboa face on, he rode eight out of ten bulls for the NFR Average title and banked over $217,000 during his ten day, ten round effort at the PRCA’s annual Super Bowl of rodeo.

Teel’s 2016 Road to Cheyenne was healthier and a little quieter. He rode in twelve of the fifteen regular season events with one tour title win in Conroe last fall. He rode sixteen bulls out of twenty-five attempts for six top five finishes and eight top ten finishes.

He advanced to the final four shoot out round five times and eight times he progressed to the semifinal round. Entering Cheyenne with the No. 4 ranking, riding sixty four percent of the bulls he attempted on the Road to Cheyenne, Teel is in great shape for his fifth CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days.  

Teel’s rise to the top of the bull riding food chain is no surprise. He came up the hard way, he earned it.

He won the Texas High School Bull Riding Championship twice, proceeded directly to the College National Finals Rodeo Championship in 2011, and then marched into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and took the 2012 PRCA World title followed by the National Finals Rodeo Average award in 2013 and 2015.

“My main focus remains the same, just staying on bulls, whoever stays on the most bulls will be the winner,” said Teel while filming pre-interviews with Geronimo productions for the CBR World Finals Fox broadcast.

In true gladiator fashion, Cody Teel continues to slay his opponents round by round with consistency. Although Teel did not have a round winning score in Calgary and only one CBR event title win on this year’s Road to Cheyenne, he persevered with his signature quiet and humble determination, which has become the trademark of this cowboy from Southeast, Texas.

With trophy saddles and buckles galore lining his home, you would think he was always at the top, but the evolution of this 6’0, 155 pound bull rider is story of sincerity and true passion for the sport.

He remains atop the CBR stat sheet for the most event title wins, ten, and his 17 appearances in the Final Four Shootout Round are the most among CBR riders. He finishes this year’s tour riding slightly lower than his seventy five percent ride average over his World Championship season.

Cody Teel has been riding or preparing to ride bulls most of his life and at this point in his career his consistency is facilitated by the fact that he knows how to handle the ups and downs of the road. Bull Riding folklore claims, “You have to know how to get thru the slumps as well as ride the high tides.”

“You have to be able to constantly accomplish your daily goals as a bull rider,” words he will no doubt be thinking about next week in Cheyenne.

Always taking time to take selfies with fans, friends, and the media, Cody Teel is known as one of the friendliest faces on the circuits. Never too tired, too hot, or too muddy to sign an autograph, he follows in the footsteps of other cowboys he respects that paved the way before him.

He learned from his Dad that in Southeast Texas you would rather get hooked then fall off in the practice pen and have the guys laugh at you. Ten years later it’s that face he puts on when the deck is stacked against him, cowboy first and bull rider second.