At just 15 years old, bull rider Marco Rizzo placed second overall in his age bracket at the 2020 Junior National Finals Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas. He is currently homeschooled and is a member of the Brooks County FFA Chapter in Quitman, Ga.
His family has a rich history in the sport. Rizzo’s father came to the United States from Brazil to continue his career as a bull rider. At a very young age, Rizzo started following in his father’s footsteps.
“I got on my first calf when I was 6 years old,” Rizzo says, “and I guess I really started understanding it when I was around 9 or 10 [years old], and that was when I started thinking about it for a future career.”
Rizzo competed in bareback and roping events in the past, but he has shifted his focus solely to bull riding. He credits some of the greats in the sport for inspiring him to compete.
“My favorite rider right now is Jose Vitor Leme,” Rizzo says. “He just won the world [championship] and he is super humble and just likes to hang out with friends and be a normal guy. I look up to him a lot.”
When the rodeo season is in full swing, Rizzo focuses on his studies during the week when he’s not competing. Being a good student is important to Rizzo, who hopes to one day rodeo in college and earn a degree before transitioning to the sport as a full-time career.
“When I’m on the road, I take my laptop with me, so I can complete my online courses,” he says. “I do a lot of work at night in the hotel room or from the passenger’s seat of the truck. I keep my grades up so I can someday get into a good college.”
In recent years, Rizzo has taken on the role of mentor to the younger kids who hang around at the rodeos.
“Even though I’m still a teenager, the younger kids at local rodeos are always watching and dream of being where I am,” Rizzo says. “It reminds me of h