Cody Coverchuk became a bull rider more or less on a dare.
“My brother dared me to get on a cow when I was 12-years-old,” said the Meadow Lake, SK., cowboy when asked about his introduction to the sport.
From there it just all sort of fell into place for Coverchuk, who will be riding in Yorkton this week as PBR Canada makes it first stop in the city as part of the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown.
“I figured out I was not too bad at it,” he said, adding learning that you are good at bull riding comes with a cost.
“I took a lot of bumps and bruises,” he said.
The physical nature of the sport meant his parents weren’t exactly thrilled about his decision to pursue it.
“The reaction was that I was crazy,” Coverchuk said with a chuckle, adding his father was at best lukewarm to the idea, and his mother basically outright opposed.
But Coverchuk persisted.
“I wasn’t very good at hockey, but I took a shine to this,” he said, adding as he progressed as a rider his parents became accepting and are now huge fans.
The bumps went down, the bruises faded, and Coverchuk got better and better at the sport.
“I progressed through amateurs up to the PBR,” he said.
Since making his PBR debut in 2013, Cody Coverchuk has been an annual contender for the PBR Canada Championship.
This season, the 24-year-old has used two event wins and 14 top-five efforts to propel him to number three in the national standings, just 138.33 points behind number-one Lachlan Richardson from Australia.
Once he realized he was good at riding bulls, the sport drew his attention in more detail and he soon became a fan of J.B. Mauney, an American professional bull rider on the Professional Bull Riders tour who won the World Championship in 2013 and 2015.
Coverchuk actually met Mauney; in fact he competed against his idol, at the Calgary Stampede in 2017.
“I always wanted to ride against him,” he admitted, adding it didn’t quite go the way he had dreamed it. “He actually beat me.”
But Coverchuk didn’t let the loss to his idol bother him, but rather saw it as an incentive.
“It’s something to build on,” he said, adding being up close to Mauney who he said has a similar style to his own was a rare opportunity to learn, “just to watch him, the way he does things.”
Coverchuk also pays attention to top Canadian riders such as Tanner Byrne from Prince Albert who rides the PBR’s top events.
“Tanner’s one of my good buddies. I get on practice bulls at his place in the winter time,” he said.
Having close friends in the sport is important, said Coverchuk, who admitted bad rides can wear on riders. He said the sport is 90 per cent mental.
“It’s pretty hard on your mind getting in the best bulls,” he said, adding it’s harder still if the bulls are putting you in the dirt a lot. That is when having friends to talk through the mental aspects of the sport come into play.
The physical aspect of the sport is about staying healthy.
That is where being a smaller rider (Coverchuk is five-foot-11) can be an asset.
“Small guys, there’s not as much real estate to get stepped on,” he said.
But the bulls always leave cowboys with a few aches and pains. Coverchuk said Mauney has stated “he hasn’t been 100 per cent healthy since he first got on a bull.”
That means rarely climbing on a bull at 100 per cent. Coverchuk said riders just block out the aches and pains for eight seconds, and go about their business.
In Coverchuk’s case the business at-hand includes trying to earn a sort of Team Canada for the PBR’s upcoming Global Cup. The third annual event which will pit teams from the top-five bull riding nations against one another, will be held in Texas in February 2019.
The first Global Cup was in 2017 in Edmonton and Coverchuk was part of Team Canada, which was a huge moment in his career.
“Every athlete wants to represent their country,” he said.
The Cup however, was not good to Coverchuk.
“I didn’t ride very good. I bucked off every bull,” he said, adding the broader experience was “great” even if his riding was not.
But when Team Canada headed to Australia for the second annual event earlier this year, Coverchuk was not among them. He wants to be back on the team in February.
The rides in Yorkton will be important in that quest as Aaron Roy will be scouting talent to fill out the Global Cup roster.
Coverchuk said he has ridden in the Farrell Agencies Arena in the past at the Canadian Cowboy Association sanctioned rodeo a few years back, and looks forward to returning with the PBR.
“It’s awesome … to get a chance to represent Saskatchewan,” he said.