NFR 2018: The 60th annual National Finals Rodeo gets underway Thursday, meaning a total of 170,000 rodeo fans are expected to pack the Thomas & Mack over the 10-day event, with 40,000 of those being from out of state, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said.
About 20 years ago, a long and lean athlete from a small town in Montana enjoyed college basketball success in Dillon and later found fame as a cowboy in Las Vegas.
Bridger Chambers is following in the footsteps of Brad Gleason, all right.
“Man it’s awesome, that’s the only way I can describe it,” said Chambers, a steer wrestler who Thursday night will compete at his first National Finals Rodeo. “It’s a dream come true and I’m trying to soak up every moment.”
In the mid-1990s, Gleason was a 6-5 forward from Ennis who starred on basketball teams at Western Montana College and in 1997 won a world championship in the bulldogging at the NFR. Chambers, who grew up in Stevensville and played basketball at what is now known as Montana Western, would sure like to follow Gleason’s example.
Erickson, Chambers among contenders at NFR
It turns out Chambers has been looking up to the former world champ for years.
“Brad played college basketball with my dad (Keith), who was the basketball coach at Stevensville for 23 years,” Chambers said. “My dad said Brad was one of the toughest guys he ever met and could stand flatfooted, jump up and dunk two basketballs.”
Chambers was no slouch on the hardwood himself.
“He was a very good basketball player,” said his coach at the time, now University of Providence coach Steve Keller. “He was hard-nosed, tough, could shoot the 3 or post up. A fierce competitor just as he is now. The stage down there will not be too big for Bridger. I expect him to be in the hunt, because I know he won’t be satisfied just by getting there.”