Get to know Bronco Mendenhall: Surfer, rides a Harley, values family, his me time

bronco family2New Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall, Utah native, is an avid surfer.

“I don’t know what the waves are like, but I’m closer now than I was at Utah,” said Mendenhall, going personal at his introductory press conference on Monday.

Surfing? Seriously?

“I love solitude and renewal, and yeah, coaching is high pressure and high visibility, especially for an introvert, and so, yeah, this takes a lot out of me to be on stage, so to speak, and so I renew privately, and waves do it for me,” Mendenhall said.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go and what the surfing looks like here, but I’ll find out in a short amount of time.”

What else can we tell you about Bronco? He rides a Harley.

“Chrome and asphalt, and no one can talk to me with the pipes and the noise,” Mendenhall said.

He also lists fly fishing and mountain biking among his off-time pursuits.

“There will be times you won’t find me, and if you come looking for me, I’ll be upset with you, and that’s for renewal,” Mendenhall said.

Family is obviously very important to Mendenhall. He introduced his wife, Holly, and three sons – Raeder, Breaker and Cutter – at the beginning of the presser, and made it clear that they weren’t just there for show.

“I want my coaches to have a life,” Mendenhall said. “There’s nothing that matters to me more than being a dad for Cutter, Breaker and Raeder and a husband to Holly, and you can do both. A cot will not be in my office. I won’t be sleeping there. But when I am there, I’ll be working fiercely and efficiently to help this program and the student-athletes in my care achieve their goals and success.

“I want to be a great dad and a great father and a great husband and a great man of faith and contributor to our community and a teacher and a great football coach at the same time, and that’s what I am aspiring to be,” Mendenhall said.

What else, what else … he likes to read, and his book shelf leans more toward business management and organizational theory than football.

And then there’s the name. No, Bronco isn’t a nickname, and it isn’t just a name, it means something, something special.

The backstory is that his mother wanted to name him George because his birthday, Feb. 21, falls close to Presidents’ Day, but his father, Paul, who played defensive end at BYU in the 1950s, made the final call.

“His background was in the ranching business in Stockton, California, in the sheep business. But he got a passion for training and developing cutting horses, cow cutting,” Mendenhall said.

As a youth, Bronco trained “12 to 15 colts a year,” he said, “and I was in boots and spurs from the time I was in fifth grade on, and learned a great work ethic that way and learned how to do hard things, and I think my dad named me that intentionally knowing that he was going to become more involved in the horse business, would need help. My brothers were all older, and I was going to be it.”

So now you see where Raeder, Breaker and Cutter come from.

“I’ve been challenged on that name quite a bit growing up, and yeah, you kind of have to make a stand at some point in your life as to who you really are, and I’ve learned that, and so my boys, whether they liked it or not, they got named pretty uniquely, and they’ve handled it really well,” Mendenhall said.

– Story by Chris Graham

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