Vexil Brand Highlight: Chuck Swisher
Welcome to the fifth article in our Vexil Brand Highlight Series. Up until now, we have had amazing interviews with Shawn Wiese, Owner of XDS Sports and Vexil Brand, Derek Kolbaba, Cody Teel, and now we get to have an inside look and interview with 2014 WNFR bullfighter, Chuck Swisher! The 2021 Riding on Faith event just wrapped up and we couldn’t wait to ask him a few questions on how it went and if he achieved what he set out to do. To give you a really good feel of what this camp is about, we encourage you to check out this phenomenal short video done by the one and only, Randy Quartieri. Enjoy!
CLN: Can you fill in our audience a little bit more about your involvement with the Riding on Faith organization and how you got involved?
Chuck: I am currently one of the lead bull fighting instructors for the camp. I got involved with the organization when I was 21. At the time, there were some bullfighters that I really looked up to who I was working a rodeo with and they invited me to my first Riding on Faith camp. They told me it was like a bull riding school that incorporated church. At that point in time, I was telling myself that I would do anything to hang out with these guys, so 1.) I would get to hang out with the guys I really looked up to, 2.) I would get to fight bulls, which is what I really love to do, then 3.) I would deal with God and Church when I got there.
CLN: Can you dive a little deeper into the mission of the RoF organization?
Chuck: Our mission for Riding on Faith is to take young cowboys and kids in the western industry and not only make them better athletes in the arena but also be better humans outside the arena. Anyone can apply to the camp, but it’s mainly for kids that are wanting to be a rodeo athlete, whether they’ve already been exposed to it or have never step foot in the arena.
CLN: What does it mean to you to not only be able to share the sport you love but also your testimony with other guys looking to be bullfighters?
Chuck: For me, it’s leaving a legacy. It’s cool at the end of your life to say that you’ve won buckles, you’ve worked the big rodeos and accomplished certain goals. But it would be terrible to be the person that gets put out in the arena for the last time and people are thinking, “Man, Chuck was a legend in the arena, but no one liked him outside the arena.” I’ve always remembered the saying that, “You don’t want to meet your heroes”, so I’ve made it my goal to give the RoF kids the things that I always wanted growing up. Things like a solid relationship with someone they can look up to, telling them my story of how I became a bullfighter, or how I came to meet Jesus and gave my life to the Lord. Those are the things that are going to live on way past what I’ve done in the arena.
CLN: I know the power of God when you get a group of people together on a mission, but can you describe an experience with this camp that touched your life in a way that you’ll never forget?
Chuck: It seems like every time we go to camp, we have that experience. But that first year that I was there, I was in a place where I would deal with God and Church as long as I still got to do the things I wanted to do. The first night at camp, the Pastor asked us “If you die tonight, and don’t wake up tomorrow, do you know where you are going to go?” I was a 21-year-old guy with the world on my shoulders and I thought I had everything I ever wanted, yet, I truly didn’t know if I would end up in Heaven or Hell. So that first night, I gave my life to the Lord, and ever since then, I go back to that feeling each year to share it with the kids at camp. This last year was my 8th or 9th year and it was cool seeing young bullfighters accept Jesus into their life and be baptized in the river, just like I was. It’s so cool to see the legacy of Riding on Faith live on.
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CLN: Is the Riding on Faith Camp just for bullfighters?
Chuck: My first year in 2013 was strictly for bull riders, then in 2015, Danny and Shelly Quartieri (the founders) reached out to me about starting a bullfighting school. In 2018, we added saddle bronc and bareback as well so now we cover all rough stock. This year we had a great bareback instructor, Logan Corbett. It was his first year and he wasn’t sure what he was getting into, but he told me now that he knows, he plans to miss rodeos next year in order to make the camp just to be a part of this event. It means a lot that these professional rodeo athletes who are trying to make a living going to rodeos, are willing to skip rodeos in order to be a part of this.
CLN: Where do you hope to see the Riding on Faith camp in five years?
Chuck: After this year at camp, we all sat down and had a visionary meeting with how we thought camp went and what we think it could be in the future. Where I personally think the Rof camp could be in 5 or 10 years, is where we could own the facility we are currently renting and instead of filling up the student list a month out from the event, I see us having 5-10 camps a year or having students on waiting lists in order to be a part of it. Currently, we are only having one event per year.
CLN: What is something that motivates and keeps pushing you to be better?
Chuck: Two years ago, I was thinking about who is going to take my job whenever I am done rodeoing. At that time, it didn’t seem like there were a ton of bullfighters coming up through the ranks. Then this year at camp, it really opened my eyes because we had 14 bullfighting students. I told them, “Whenever it’s your time to get into the arena, I want my boss calling me, saying that this kid who attended the Rof Camp, is about to have your[Chuck’s] job if you don’t step up.” I want them to have my job, but they’re going to have to work their butts off to get it. I’ve been bullfighting for 15 years now and I still get excited to do what I love every day. I think it’s important to share that same excitement with the young guys as well.
CLN: What has it meant to you to have Vexil on board as a partner?
Chuck: Vexil Brand was one of my very first sponsors. I actually knew Shawn’s parents through Rodeo Houston, they ran a Cowboy’s Ministry and I knew Shawn was an agent so I reached out to him asking about sponsorships. Shawn told me at the time that he was just about to launch this new brand [Vexil Brand] and he wanted me to be a part of it. That was my first big sponsor back in 2013 and we have just become family since then. Shawn and the Vexil Brand have been a huge part of the camp for a long time as well. Now each student that comes through the camp gets a “Riding on Faith/Vexil Brand” shirt and hat. It’s cool to travel and see kids wearing them here and there, knowing that they could have only gotten those at camp.
CLN: Along the same lines, how do you feel about partnering with folks that have the same values and faith as you?
Chuck: For me personally, that’s one of the only requirements I have for my sponsors. If you own a Vexil cap, each one has a tag that says “Joshua 1:9 Be Strong & Courageous”. They make sure that every cap has that and it just goes to show what the brand is all about. They benefit so many people inside and outside the arena. They are a company that stays true to themselves no matter what’s going on around them. Through and through, they are just the real deal.
Chuck Swisher’s Personal Note
For any young rodeo athlete, athlete that needs a tune-up, or someone that is just really wanting to get into it, make sure to sign up for the Riding on Faith camp early for next year. We just finished up this year, but it’ll be coming around next year in May. Huge shout out to the Vexil Brand for their continued support!
About Riding on Faith
Riding On Faith Camp is a community of believers, friends and family who are seeking to bring people closer to God. Originally based out of New Mexico, we now call Locus Grove, Oklahoma home. Our desire is to instill a solid foundation in the future of our industry to become men and women of God.
About the VEXIL Brand
VEXIL is a brand built on the cowboy and cowgirl lifestyle. Some were born into it and others were just drawn to it but regardless of what lead us to this life, it is now forever branded upon our souls. From the sound of creaking leather as we climb into our saddles to the banging of metal as bulls and horses are loaded in the chutes, the small details of this life become the spark that fuels our passion. It’s really sad that the majority of this world’s population will never get to see what we see or know what we know. Outsiders will never understand our lives but that really doesn’t concern us. We will keep being who we are because that is what we know and all we care to know. We will be strong, we will be courageous, we will BE COWBOYS.