Baker signs letter of intent to join FSCC rodeo team

by Toni Hopper

For the past 14 months, Marlow High School senior Korben Baker has been hitting the dirt in one of the roughest sports, but hard work produces results. On Monday, he signed his letter of intent, to become a member of the Fort Scott Community College rodeo team.

Baker is a first-generation rodeo athlete, and his dad couldn’t be any prouder. Kenny Baker is probably his son’s biggest fan, too, noting the scholarship is an honor.

“We’re super proud of how hard he worked. It’s a big deal. He’s been in it a year and 2 months. He started the second week of February last year, and rode 150 horses in a year, practicing and at rodeos. He’s sitting 3rd at state right now and should get to go to Nationals this year, in Gillette, WY July 15-22, hopefully.”

Besides his immediate family - parents Monica and Kenny, and sister Madison, Baker was surrounded by other family members, his closest friends and several members of the Marlow Public School district on Monday when he made the commitment. Also present were Fort Scott’s Head Rodeo Coach Chad Cross, and local coach, Brent Bullard of Duncan.

Cross said he learned of Baker through some mutual friends.

“They came forward and told us about him, said we better get him. We started watching him. He comes from a nice family and people respect them. It means the world to us and like anything you do, the people you surround yourself and get along with is important. Korben’s a nice young man and polite,” Cross said.

Baker also has a great deal of respect for Coach Cross.

“It’s a good opportunity. Coach Cross is a good guy, the kids on his team are good. This is my next step to be better,” Baker said. He realizes he has some hard work ahead of him. “It’s fun and hard and challenging. It keeps you on your toes.” Reflecting back to his first ride, he smiled. “You get on with lots of confidence, when you start it’s so fast and so hard you don’t even know what’s happening – so challenging – all I remember is going out of the chute gate and going down.”

Cross has been coach for 26 years at FSCC, and the man before him held the position 16 years.

“Rodeo is not a club, it’s a sport and it’s been there (FSCC) for a long time. It’s a well-established program and we’re very proud of it,” he said. “Right now, we’re winning our region, and I’ll tell you in two weeks where we’re sitting.”

Baker is a four-year FFA member and holds the role of Student Adviser in his chapter. He’s also on the Marlow FFA Shooting Team, which was a state qualifier the last three years. He is a member of Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association (OKHSRA) and was a 2022 National High School Rodeo Association qualifier. He competed in saddle bronc riding, light rifle and trap shooting. His best friend, Hunter Miller, also competed in last year’s nationals. They were both in the top four in Oklahoma to qualify.

Marlow High School Principal Bryan Brantley and Superintendent Corey Holland were also in attendance for the signing. Brantley said it was only the second time that he could remember for a student to earn a rodeo scholarship.