Derek Koch - Bull Rider

Categories: Overcoming
Date: 25 Nov 2015 14:17

SAYiWON’T FEATURE: DEREK KOCH

I started riding bulls when I was 14. Once I started winning consistently I fell in love with that feeling of success. By the time I was 16 I felt that I had a promising future in the sport. My confidence was up and everything was working in my favor. On New Year's Eve of 2006, I had a fireworks accident that resulted in the amputation of my riding (right) hand and multiple ear surgeries. Lying in the ambulance while waiting to meet the chopper I stared at the toes of my boots. I could see the top of my buckle and started crying. At that moment I thought it was the last one I'd have ever won because I wouldn't be able to ride anymore.

When I was in the hospital, a good friend of mine, Cody Teel, brought me a left handed rope and told me that I'd just have to swap hands. From that moment on I never thought that I couldn't make it riding bulls.

Since then I've had highs and lows and have been plagued by adversity and injuries, but that is just life and bull riding. In December of 2014 I graduated from McNeese State University with a Bachelor's in Agricultural Sciences. Now that I've finished that I'm going to do what I want to do… ride bulls and encourage people to go after the things in this world that they want most.

SAYiWON'T is a mindset. It's a set of attitudes that shows up to every challenge with me.  It asks, “Who do you think you are to tell me what I can’t do?” It says, “I refuse to let the odds or critics determine the outcome. I will overcome and I will be triumphant because I have the heart to not quit!”

Most would believe that my greatest challenge would be overcoming my amputation at the age of 16 or having to swap riding hands, but neither of those are. Bull riding has its consequences and I have sustained several injuries including: a broken ankle, broken tib-fib, dislocated shoulders, broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a few concussions. I have repeatedly had close friends and family members tell me that I couldn't or shouldn't. The lack of support can have such a negative impact on a person’s confidence and performance. What should be my best fan base has been my greatest challenge. 

God, pure heart, and the SAYiWON'T mindset have driven me through every challenge that I've faced. Quitting is not an option! I believe I've been blessed with an opportunity to encourage and motivate, an opportunity to show people that no matter your situation you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

One word to describe myself: Tenacious!

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Derek K

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