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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem
Uhuru Adem

Building a Foundation that Lasts

- (March 27, 2020), Written by Reed Neely, Ag 166 Communications/Publications class

Uhuru Adem is the 27 year-old coach for the Fresno State Bulldoggers Rodeo Team. A title that may sound easy to some, but much harder when examined behind the scenes.

He grew up on a ranch and learned to rope and ride in Granite Station, California, which boasts a population of about 40 people. He started dummy roping and riding sheep at the age of 5 and ran cattle for local ranchers as well as training horses, which transferred directly into the arena at junior rodeos.

After two years competing for Feather River College, his road to coaching at California State University, Fresno began when he was offered a scholarship nine years ago.

After a successful saddle bronc career for the Bulldoggers, he graduated with an agricultural business degree in 2015. The two-time College National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc qualifier then competed professionally and served as an assistant coach at West Hills Community College in Coalinga.

Three years later, he returned to become the Fresno State full-time head coach in 2018 focused on continuing to strengthen a program already on the rise.

It's a job that has many ups and downs; however, one of the greater challenges Adem currently faces is the financial burdens that are sometimes less at other schools.

With help from the campus Ag One Foundation, he and the program are trying to raise more funds so that team members can also focus more on being students and athletes.

“A majority of the kids on the team have to work part-time jobs, so it's hard to raise money every year in order to be able to go to the college finals or even our regional finals,” said Adem. "Being able to pay for practice, stalls, and feed from other sources would relieve most of the pressure on these kids."

While Adem is aware of these roadblocks, he finds a way to push through them.

Last year he coached the men's team to a CNFR bid after it won its first West Coast region title in more than 30 years, while ranking third nationally at the end of the regular season. At the CNFR event, senior Colton Campbell won the men’s all-around individual title, the event's highest award.

Before the remainder of the season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his goal for the remainder of the 2020 rodeo season was to take a men’s and a women’s team together to the CNFR, something that will now have to wait until 2021.

Until a new season starts, one of the characteristics of the rodeo team that Adem cherishes most is the team's work ethic both inside and outside the arena.

"The team members go to practice early in the morning before the sun is up, and then have their horses put up and taken care of, and 15 minutes later be in the classroom at 8 a.m.," said Adem. "That's something to be proud of because it takes a lot of drive, and they're also rewarded by receiving a bachelor’s degree.

The legacy Adem wants to leave with the program is an ethic of hard work.

The amount of work and man hours he is putting into this team will take them as far as they want, and hopefully another national championship, making the Bulldoggers a team to look out for.