Jeff Askey was born 28 years ago in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania to Steve and Jeanne Askey. Jeff has one brother who is currently living in Beech Creek where he runs his own construction business. Beech Creek is up in the first frontier and isn’t far from Penn State University. He describes home as, “Beautiful wooded country known for its timber and ruralness, with a lot of Amish influence.” Beech Creek is a place where most people haven’t even heard of rodeo. Jeff says that because of its unfamiliarity, “People at school would actually make fun of it.”
Growing up in the northeast where rodeo was not a prominent sport, neither Jeff or anyone in his family participated in it very much. Pennsylvania featured a few junior rodeos, but nothing like the western areas where it is a mainstream sport. Jeff’s dad bought and sold horses and he always enjoyed being around them. He had a friend down the road who rode horses and roped as well, and his family hosted a junior rodeo at their house. He went over just to hang out and ended up entering the rodeo just for fun. From there he bought a rope and started finding nearby youth rodeo associations so he could work on what he needed to get better at. Jeff really hadn’t known the first thing about rodeo. All it took was meeting a boy down the street and finding a spark of interest. His curiosity for the sport drove his continue practicing at his friend’s house and entering rodeos when he had the chance. Starting at age 13 and being 28 now, Jeff says, “It has taken the full 15 years to hone my skills.”
Jeff rodeo’d his junior and senior years of high school. He qualified for Nationals in bull riding and bareback riding, and won state in bareback. He was also the reserve champion in bull riding both years. Jeff then went on to compete in college. He first went to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on a rodeo scholarship, and later transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin where he finished his 4-year degree and won a College National Championship in 2010. Jeff credits his college coach for being the one who helped set him up to finish his 4-year degree. He was grateful to be offered a scholarship, and did not pass up the opportunity.
After his first year, Jeff was taken out of bareback riding and focused on bull riding because that’s where his coach knew he would excel. His coach was right, Jeff went on to win the region in 2010 and win the College National Finals. Jeff thrived with the help of the coaching staff, which he credits for propelling his college career. His coach while at UT Martin is still there, and was awarded national coach of the year 2 years ago. Jeff says, “He taught us to have a good attitude, how important it is to set goals and visualize, and how to always stay positive.” Most importantly, “He taught the moves you should and shouldn’t make in your career.” This gave his students a strong mindset.
Jeff later moved to Athens, Texas where he currently resides and is living the bachelor life. He has been in the PRCA knocking at their heels and staying consistent for many years now. The 2013 season was the first in which he started rodeoing with extreme competitive goals. Last year Jeff ended up 16th and missed the NFR by just $207. “I just knew that this year I had to start reinforcing some stuff and knew if I could get that close, I could do even better this year.”
He kept working hard and started out in Denver by winning 2nd place, which put him in the top 5 right off the bat. He says, “I just keep having fun and enjoying it without ever overthinking anything.” Jeff’s advice to future athletes is to rely on, “Persistence and determination. Keep doing it, keep trying. If you want something keep working at it and keep looking at ways to make yourself better. Don’t be content and don’t give up.”