West Hills College, Coalinga hires new rodeo coach to ride herd on Falcon bronc busters

From West Hills College
New WHC Rodeo Coach Justin Hampton
New WHC Rodeo Coach Justin Hampton

For Justin Hampton, “It’s like coming full circle.”He’s the new rodeo coach at West Hills College Coalinga, hired to fill the boots of Bruce Hunt who is retiring June 30 after more than 30 years on the job.

Hampton agreed to become an instructor and rodeo coach at the college where he began his educational and college rodeo career. As a student here, he qualified for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association finals three times and also served as an assistant coach.

 “I am honored to have been chosen by West Hills College,” said Hampton. “I am eager to get started as this has been a dream of mine for quite some time. I am going to put my heart and soul into the program while carrying on the West Hills Rodeo tradition that was started, maintained, and made famous by my mentor, Bruce Hunt. I have big shoes to fill and I am up for the challenge that this job presents.”

 Hampton, 43, a local school teacher, is a former NIRA West Coast reserve team roping champion, and seven time qualifier for the California Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit finals – where he won the championship in 1999.

 After a nationwide search and a round of interviews, Hampton was selected for the position. The new head coach will take over the reins from Hunt who reportedly has held the position longer than any other community college coach in California.

 “Justin and I share a lot in common,” said Hunt. “He pursued his rodeo interests while earning a college education and now has the opportunity to combine a career with his life-long interest just as I did. Justin has his finger on the pulse of education and rodeo and will bring a wealth of enthusiasm to the table. I look for him to propel West Hills College Rodeo to an even higher level."

 A school teacher since 2001, he was WHCC’s assistant rodeo coach from 1996-98 and later coached the CSU Fresno’s rodeo team from 1998-2000. When he wasn’t busy on the rodeo circuit, he earned a B. A. and a teaching credential at Fresno State.

 Hampton was nominated Teacher of the Year in 2009, while he was a sixth and eighth grade teacher at Coalinga Huron Unified School District, a job he’ll be leaving when school’s out. He also taught fourth and fifth graders in Avenal and earlier was a fourth grade teacher at Westside School District.

 “We believe (he) will make an excellent addition to our coaching staff,” said Carole Goldsmith, president of WHCC. “Like his colleagues, he shares the same dedication to winning in the arena and in the classroom. He is a dedicated valley native who is well-respected in the community and on the rodeo circuit. When it comes to recruiting, he’ll be able use his college and high school rodeo ties to improve our competitive edge. Justin brings a great passion to rodeo and we look forward to him helping our young men and women reach their goals.”   

 Hampton’s wife, Jennifer, is a Special Education teacher at Coalinga Huron Unified School District. They have two daughters Abigayle, 16 and Elizabeth, 12. The Hamptons reside in Coalinga. 

 The new coach likes nothing better than riding horses and maintaining his roping skills. “My hobbies revolve around my daughters,” he said. “My family likes to attend rodeos.”

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