Cherokee citizen and professional bull rider Ryan Dirteater rides during a PBR Built Ford Tough Series event in St. Louis, Mo. (Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media)
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee citizen Ryan Dirteater dreamed of riding bulls on the big stage ever since he was a kid growing up in Hulbert.
Today, Dirteater, 25, ranks 20th in the Professional Bull Riders’ Built Ford Tough Series, the major league of bull riding, and is showing Cherokee youth around the world that anything is possible.
Dirteater rides this weekend for a chance at $100,000 and the opportunity to earn more points to compete at the world finals later this year.
“Dreams come true for those who work while they dream,” said Dirteater, who is sponsored by Cherokee Nation Businesses. “Believe in yourself and your ability. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get it.
Dirteater turned professional in 2007 and made his first PBR finals in 2008. He has captured two Built Ford Tough Series wins in his seven-year professional career. The 26-event series ends October 11 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and includes an August 15-16 stop in Tulsa.
The top 35 riders with the most points at season’s end will compete in October in the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals at Las Vegas.
During Dirteater’s career, from a torn ACL to a broken femur, injuries kept him from riding throughout the years, but he used the setback as motivation. Family and community support helped him get back to the top of his game. He now wants to inspire other native youth to persevere and realize the importance of having a strong support system.
“There are a lot of Natives that have talent to be anything they want. They just need to have the guidance and support from their community and family,” Dirteater said. “For me, it’s been a long road and I’ve been through a lot of adversity, but I’ve fought my way through it. If you be true to the game, the game will be true to you.”