Dr. Al Wagner retiring from Aggie Rodeo after nearly 3 decades of service
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Texas A&M Rodeo team has been around since 1919. It started as a student run organization and is now a competitive team. The man leading the team has done so for nearly 30 years, and he’s getting ready to hang it up.
Out at Mancuso Arena, practice is underway for members of the Aggie rodeo team. Right by their side is long time coach Al Wagner.
“The kids call me Dr. Al,” said Dr. Al Wagner. “I didn’t want to be called Dr. Wagner and they didn’t feel comfortable calling me by my first name, so we compromised and called it Dr. Al.. and I like that.”
For the last 26 seasons, Dr. Al has held the title as Head Coach.
He’s seen the team grow from 12 members to 44, was named the Coach of the Year in 2016 and saw the women win the 2002 National Championship. However, the 75 year old is doing it all on his own time.
It’s a volunteer position... meaning he hasn’t gotten a paycheck for the hours and years he’s put into the program.
“But I have never regretted saying yes,” said Wagner. “Working with these young people is my reward.”
Former and current members of the team have nothing but praise for their head coach.
“For the past 26 years Dr. Al Wagner has been the Texas A&M rodeo team,” said Bret Richards, Former Aggie rodeo member and Alumni President. “He’s the gentleman that stepped in so many years ago.. was a volunteer position as a rodeo advisor to help us.”
“His servant heart is all in because he’s not paid a dime for what he does for our team and he’s done it for over 25 years,” said Laramie Wedemeyer an Aggie Rodeo senior. “It’s just been a blessing and it’s kept the team from disappearing here on campus, and given us an opportunity and a place to become an official team and not just a club.”
Dr. Al is a Kerrville native and rodeoed at A&M in the late 1960s. Now he’s ready to hand the reigns over.
“(I) Know it’s time to turn it over to somebody younger,” said Wagner.
“It’s time to help him and to pass the torch onto the next generation of Texas A&M rodeo,” said Richards.
This generation will have a position comes with a paycheck. The Aggie Rodeo team created a one million dollar endowment in Dr. Al’s name, and a third of the goal is already raised.
“We’re not trying to start the program,” said Richards. “We’re trying to enhance it for Texas A&M. We want to make sure our program is on par with our football team and basketball team and volleyball team.”
The goal is to have the next coach in place by the fall of 2023, bt Dr. Al doesn’t plan on being too far away from a team he’s called his own for nearly three decades.
“I just said guys.. we better start on this because they’re not going to find another idiot to do it for 26 years for no money, but my reward was the kids,” said Wagner. “I’m just pleased to be a part of this and look forward to the future.”
Getting a new coach in place is just the tip of the ice berg. The alumni association wants to help create facilities for the program. Texas A&M doesn’t have Aggie rodeo practice facilities so the team is dependent on private stables.
Learn more about Aggie Rodeo here.
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