Archive for April, 2011

postheadericon Was it karma?

I wonder if it was karma or happenstance, but those of us who watched the Fort Hays State University rodeo last weekend couldn’t help but notice the bulls failing to leave the arena.

As announcer Travis Schauda pointed out, the out gate was sponsored by a local steakhouse, and in the banner that covered the gate displayed a beautiful looking steak. Were the bovines concerned about where the gate might lead, or were they just feeling a little frisky and enjoyed the large arena compared to the smallish back pens?

My choice is the latter, since the bucking horses didn’t want to go to the back either. But it sure made for some fun consideration.

postheadericon Celebrating rodeo alumni

The 2011 Fort Hays State University rodeo hosted the club's alumni last weekend, and the group is looking at ways to help grow the rodeo program.

The 2011 Fort Hays State University rodeo hosted the club's alumni last weekend, and the group is looking at ways to help grow the rodeo program.

One of the great things about attending the Fort Hays State University rodeo last weekend was seeing old friends.

But there was a lot more to it. This was the first reunion in the 45-year history of the college’s rodeo club. The biggest and best thing about the weekend, though, came late Saturday afternoon when we talked about raising money for an endowed scholarship to honor longtime coach Garry Brower. The hope was to raise $10,000 over three years, and before the banquet began, we learned that $3,500 had been raised.

Dr. Edward Hammond, who has been the university’s president for 25 years, showed us how to raise money. He opened his own checkbook and pledged to donate $5,000 if the alumni organization could raise just $1,500 in seven days.

That generous offer, made by the only college president in the Central Plains Region to own bucking bulls, prompted fast action. In fact, Hammond was forced to write a check within 15 minutes of the announcement.

That’s just the foundation, and I’d love to see the fund continue to grow. This is important to the Fort Hays State rodeo team; moreover, it’s important for the future of rodeo. If you’d like to contribute, contact Debra Prideaux, Executive Director, Alumni and Governmental Relations, Fort Hays State University, Robbins Center – One Tiger Place, Hays, KS 67601-3767.

postheadericon Photos from Hays

Cole Dorenkamp

Cole Dorenkamp, Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

Morgan Lindsay, Kansas State University

Frank Morton, Dodge City Community College

postheadericon McCoys clean up during eighth leg of ‘The Amazing Race’

After making their way to a local tonga stand in Varanasi, India, cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy discover that this "road block" will lead them to the meaning of life and their next clue on the April 3 episode of "The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business." Photo: CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

After making their way to a local tonga stand in Varanasi, India, cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy discover that this "road block" will lead them to the meaning of life and their next clue on the April 3 episode of "The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business." Photo: CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Racing around the world for the $1 million prize is hard work, and the eighth leg of “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business” was evidence of that.

“You’ve been racing so hard, your cowboy hat is dirty,” Phil Keoghan, host of the CBS-TV reality series, said to Cord McCoy, who is racing with his brother, Jet, for the second straight spring season.

“I’m going to win me enough money I’ll get me a new cowboy hat,” Cord told Keoghan after the team finished fifth in the episode that aired Sunday night. “It’s time to step it up, or we’re going to go home.”

The cowboys trailed the pack for much of the leg, which began in Varanasi, India. It marked the second straight episode the brothers finished in fifth place; they left the starting point at Ramnagar Fort an hour and a half behind the leaders, Globetrotters Herb Lang and Nate Lofton.

“We kind of dodged a bullet in the last leg, but I’m not sure we could do it again,” Jet said. “The closer we get to the end, there’s room for fewer and fewer mistakes. I think the cowboys are about ready to get out of India. We’re done playing ‘Cowboys and Indians.’ ”

The first step in the eighth leg was to book a flight to Vienna, Austria, through a travel agent. While the other five teams took the earliest arrival, it involved two connections. The McCoys opted for a travel plan that arrived in Vienna half an hour behind the other teams but involved just one connection.

“Every flight we’ve been on in this country has been delayed by 20 to 35 minutes,” Jet said. “I don’t know if it’s worth the risk. You can lose 30 minutes anywhere. I think we’re going to roll the dice.”

As expected, the rodeo cowboys were well behind the field. Once in Vienna, they made their way to a 2012 Ford Focus. As they backed the vehicle, they read through the car’s camera their next clue, taking them to Schloss Schallaburg, a castle that is widely known for its annually changing, cultural-historical and archaeological exhibitions. From there they were directed to the national library.

“Jet and I have been making a habit of starting in last,” Cord said. “You can’t survive and win a million dollars.”

Obviously they have through two-thirds of the race. At the library, the teams were directed to their “detour,” where they either carried a couch from Sigmund Freud’s home/museum to the university or tried to eat a large meal while riding 12 minutes on a giant Farris wheel. Three teams – best friends Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew; sisters Jennifer and LaKisha Hoffman; and father-daughter Gary and Mallory Ervin – tried the meal and failed, so all eventually carried the couch.

“We just hope we make it to our location faster than a couple other teams,” Cord said. “When we were going to the couches, Jet and I knew we were dead last, so we had to pick up the pace.”

Just as the brothers reached the Freud museum, they saw Glassenberg and Kanew leaving with their couch.

“Hey, that was all we needed,” Cord said. “We’re back in the game. That was the first time Jet and I seen any team. That was like the first light at then end of the tunnel that we’d seen.”

“That’s kind of encouraging,” Jet said.

The brothers were shown running through the streets of Vienna, but they still had their senses of humor.

“I kept thinking it might be faster … I could lay on the couch, tell Cord about my feelings, and he could push me,” Jet said.

“I don’t need to know about his feelings that bad,” Cord said.

As they completed the task, they passed Glassenberg and Kanew, then they raced back to the library, where their vehicle was parked. At that point, the cowboys were ahead of two other teams.

“I think there’s two cars sitting there,” Jet said, as they prepared to drive to “Old Town” Salzburg. “There’s still hope for us.”

But the race was on, and Glassenberg and Kanew moved back into fourth place on the highway, passing the McCoys en route to the “road block,” where one team member had to dress the part and do the work of a chimney sweep, from dark outfit to the top hat.

“Looks good on me?” a joking Cord asked the actual chimney sweep assigned to help him. “Chicks dig it?

“I think I might have found a new calling already; chimney sweeping at its best.”

Once the task was complete, the teams found the clue to the leg’s “pit stop,” Villa Trapp, the home of the actual von Trapp family from the “Sound of Music.”

Glassenberg and Kanew won the leg, each earning a 2012 Ford Focus. The Ervins finished last, but they remain in the race because Sunday’s episode was a non-elimination leg. The father-daughter tandem will have to handle an extra task during the ninth leg of the race, which airs at 7 p.m. Central next Sunday.

postheadericon It’s reunion weekend

The Fort Hays (Kan.) State University Rodeo is this weekend, and I’m surrounded by my old haunts at my alma mater.

I’m looking forward to the Central Plains Region action, but I’m also looking forward to seeing some old friends, no matter their school allegiance — it kind of comes with the territory of having a wife who was part of the rodeo program at Panhandle State University for so many years and by mine having written about all those Oklahoma schools when I was working in Oklahoma City.

The only negative to the weekend was the weather. Snow and wind made for a miserable Friday, so miserable, in fact, that Friday’s competition was postponed. It means a lot of making up in a day and a half at Doug Phillip Arena.

But it’s still going to be a lot of fun.

postheadericon An excited crew

Associates with Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. are plenty excited to be teamed with cowboy and “amazing” racer Cord McCoy.

In a release that was sent out last week and posted on, McCoy announced the sponsorship agreement with the Ada, Okla.-based organization that has representatives all across the country. Apparently the folks at Pre-Paid Legal released the information to the associates this morning and included the post. The comments have been coming in ever since.

I appreciate the comments, and I’d love for more people to get involved in sharing their thoughts about any topic on here. I appreciate the excited Pre-Paid Legal associates who have sent their messages to Cord today and those who will continue doing so in the days to come.

Given that every news story we release for Cord and Jet will be part of TwisTED Rodeo, this might be the perfect place for Pre-Paid Legal to advertise. I should really check that out.

postheadericon Livestock a key factor in Pioneer Days Rodeo’s success

GUYMON, Okla. – Every athlete wants a fair opportunity to compete.

In the world of rodeo, no other event does it better than the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. It’s why the best in the business return to the Oklahoma Panhandle the first weekend of May each year.

“We’ve always focused on the cowboys,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “For us, that means doing what we can for the contestants, from our hospitality to getting the best stock. That means getting the best bucking horses and bulls and giving the timed-event contestants the best cattle to compete on.”

The committee will try to get enough roping cattle and bulldogging steers for each cowboy. In team roping, the animals will be fresh, meaning they’ll come straight from the pasture and will not have been roped prior to the event.

“Our team ropers won’t draw for their steers because they’ll be walking fresh and chute run,” said Ken Stonecipher, a longtime committee member. “We’ve had muley steers, those that don’t have horns, but this year we’re using horned cattle in team roping.

“They’ll still have a long score with a hand-pulled barrier.”

The primary difference is that most rodeo cattle have been through the chutes and know what to expect. They’re trained to do their jobs.

“When we get these fresh cattle, you don’t know what to expect, which we hope will make it a little more western,” Stonecipher said.

That’s just one aspect of the commitment to great livestock. The barrel racers, ropers and steer wrestlers will showcase some of the most athletic horses in the business, animals with blazing speed that can handle the maneuvers needed to stop the clock in quick order.

Of course, primary stock provider Pete Carr of Carr Pro Rodeo will bring with him a pasture full of great bucking horses and bulls. Not only that, but Carr has sought out some other tremendous contractors to help provide the fantastically athletic bucking beasts for this year’s festivities: Powder River Rodeo Co., D&H Cattle Co., Korkow Rodeo and Frontier Rodeo.

“It’s important to me that the cowboys can get on any horse or any bull and have a chance to win the rodeo,” Carr said. “We’ve had some great rides in Guymon over the years, and I’m sure we’ll see that again this year.”

That’s just what the rodeo needs, Quimby said.

“We’ve got several horses and a number of bulls that were at the 2010 NFR,” he said, referring to the year-end championship, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “I think, altogether, it’s shaping up to be the best four performances you can see anywhere outside the NFR.”

With previous years as indicators, Quimby might be dead on in his assessment. Take Dirty Jacket, a 7-year-old gelding that has helped cowboys win the Pioneer Days Rodeo title each of the last three years. In 2010, Will Lowe scored 87 points on Dirty Jacket to win the rodeo, while Joe Gunderson’s 86 on the horse held up for second place.

“The thing I like about coming to Guymon is that we all have a shot,” said saddle bronc rider Bobby Griswold of Geary, Okla., a four-time NFR qualifier. “That’s a rodeo we all want to win.”

postheadericon Will Rogers Roundup Club to induct five into hall of fame

CLAREMORE, Okla. – It’s been eight years since the first class was inducted into the Will Rogers Roundup Club’s Rodeo Hall of Fame.

The prestige keeps building.

“This is a way for us to celebrate the things that have made the roundup club and the Will Rogers Stampede something special,” said rodeo chairman David Petty, noting this year’s Rodeo Legends Banquet will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Roundup Clubhouse. “From Clem McSpadden, our first honoree, to the group we’re inducting this year, these people have helped build professional rodeo to the entertaining sport it is today.”

This year’s inductees are steer roping legends “Shoat” Webster and Guy Allen, all-around champion Roy Cooper and longtime roundup club members Bob and Alice Morton.

“The people who are part of the roundup club are such a big part of this community and of rodeo, in general,” said Donna McSpadden, Clem’s widow who has carried his strong rodeo voice since his death nearly three years ago. “The town was always heavily involved, and the people were happy to have the roundup club here. Rodeo is a star in somebody’s heart.”

It is in the hearts of the inductees, that’s for sure. The Mortons have been involved for decades, holding many prestigious titles in the roundup club. Bob served as chairman of the rodeo for a number of years, and he continues to be an integral piece of the puzzle in producing the annual event, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 28-Sunday, May 29.

“If there’s a rodeo mom and dad for a lot of us from around here, they are it,” said Justin McKee, a rodeo announcer from Lenapah, Okla., who will emcee the hall of fame banquet, stepping in for arena announcer Scott Grover, who had a prior commitment. “It’s good knowing they’re there. They’re some of the finest people that this region has had to promote rodeo and contestants.

“They care about people. Everybody knows they care about rodeo, but they’re also genuine people. They genuinely care about people they’re around and like, and that’s meaningful.”

Born Howard Choteau Webster, “Shoat” is a four-time world champion steer roper from Lenepah who could also wrestle steers and rope calves. He was an all-around hand focused on his work at Lowry Ranch, but he could win at about anything he tried; he was even the world champion wild cow milker at Madison Square Garden one year.

“What people don’t realize because it’s so long and he’s outlived most of his old counterparts, but at places like Pecos (Texas), Pendleton (Ore.) and Cheyenne (Wyo.) – or any of those places in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico or west Texas where steer roping was big – Shoat was more popular and won more stuff than Casey Tibbs or Jim Shoulders,” said McKee, who also competes in steer roping.

He might have won more often had he hit the road and competed at more events.

“That son of a buck didn’t go that much,” McKee said. “Nobody can touch his earnings percentage. If you go to San Angelo (Texas) or Pawhuska (Okla.) where they had the invitational steer ropings, this guy was Elvis. This guy was as tough and good looking and as popular as they come.”

Rodeo is about tough, whether it’s competing on ornery livestock or traveling tens of thousands of miles in order to make a living. Both Allen and Cooper have done it all, and they have the gold buckles to prove it.

“Having world champions like Guy, Roy and Shoat in our hall of fame is important, because they’re proof of what it takes to win in rodeo,” Petty said. “Guy is here every year, just like he was when he was winning world championships while living in Vinita (Okla.).”

Allen has won a lot of world championships. His 18 steer roping gold buckles are the most by any individual in the history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. From 1991-2001, nobody was better. But there were eight other years in which the New Mexico cowboy won the top prize in his event.

“This is a big deal to me, because when I was starting my announcing career, Guy lived in Vinita and we went to church together at Cowboy Junction,” McKee said. “He helped me with my steer roping. We became lifelong friends. One of the highlights of my life is being able to hang out with Guy, getting to rope with him every day.”

Cooper owns eight world titles – six in tie-down roping, one in steer roping and one in the all-around; in 1983, he won the coveted Triple Crown by winning three championships in a single season. He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 20 times – 19 in calf roping and once in team roping – and he made 13 trips to the National Finals Steer Roping. This past year December he watched his three sons, Clif, Clint and Tuf, compete at the NFR.

“Roy’s been on of my biggest inspirations, but not for the reason a lot of people have had,” McKee said. “In his later years when he was only competing in steer roping or calf roping, he hadn’t been on the road or behind the barrier nearly as much as his younger counterparts, but he’d still come in there and win money.

“I’d like to be like that, when I show up, I can win like he does. That’s something I shoot for. I want to be like Roy.”

postheadericon Strong weekend gives Fennell the momentum for 2011

D.V. Fennell has had a hunger in his belly for five months.

Fennell is a two-time bareback riding qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but bucking horses don’t read resumes. The Utah-born, Oklahoma-raised cowboy hasn’t seen a paycheck since the seventh round of the on Dec. 8, 2010. That’s the way it goes in rodeo sometimes. Even the best cowboys go through trials that would make lesser men squeal.

D.V. Fennell

D.V. Fennell

“I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a struggle,” said Fennell, who earned $5,880 over the past week by finishing second at two rodeos. “But it feels real good now. I’m ready to start my roll.”

Fennell’s biggest chunk of change came in Logandale, Nev., where his 85-point ride was second only to Jake Vold’s 87. For that, Fennell earned $4,512. He added another $1,368 by finishing second at Oakdale, Calif., with an 80, just two points behind winner Cody DeMers.

“This is a tough business,” he said, noting that contestants must pay entry fees in order to compete and they only earn money back if they do well enough to place; at both rodeos, only the top six places earned a check. “You’ve just got to stick with it and believe in yourself. But when you go through those kinds of slumps, it’s hard not to doubt yourself.

“Fortunately I’ve got a great team helping me. I couldn’t have made it this far this year without my little buddy, Justin (McDaniel) or Eric Norris or Jack Hodge.”

McDaniel is the 2008 world champion bareback rider and Fennell’s longtime traveling partner, while Eric Norris owns the State Farm Insurance agency in Fennell’s hometown of Neosho, Mo. Hodge runs James Hodge Ford in Muskogee, Okla. – both Norris and Hodge are marketing partners/sponsors of Fennell’s rodeo career, but they bring a lot more to the table.

“These guys have kept me going down the road doing what I do,” Fennell said. “But they’ve also been great friends. That means a heck of a lot more to me.”

So what’s next?

Fennell has expected a “hot” season, meaning many trips to the pay window in a sport where money not only helps pay bills but also counts toward championship points – the contestants in each event with the most money won at the end of the 2011 campaign will be crowned world champions. And while it took several months to get it kick-started, Fennell is still banking on a strong finish.

In reality, he’s less than $5,000 outside of the top 20 and less than $13,000 outside the top 10. As he proved quickly in Logandale and Oakdale, a hot run can help Fennell make up a lot of ground.

“It’s pretty amazing how momentum works,” he said. “But I feel sharp and know I’m riding good. It’s time to keep getting on good horses and take advantage of that.”

postheadericon FHSU rodeo team to host championship-caliber event

HAYS, Kan. – The future of rodeo is among us, and it’s coming to northwest Kansas for the annual Fort Hays State University Rodeo.

The college’s rodeo club will host the event, part of the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. It’s one of the toughest circuits in college rodeo, and the FHSU rodeo team has been part of it for decades.

FHSU cowboys and cowgirls will test their mettle against some of the top hands in college rodeo during the four performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16; and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17 at Doug Phillip Arena. How tough will the competition be?

This is where Bronc Rumford was an all-around winner before a he became a professional champion, then the program’s coach. It’s where Lyle Sankey developed his talents before qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in all three roughstock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.

It’s where Jule Hazen fine-tuned his steer wrestling talents before a career that’s seen him qualify twice for the NFR. It’s where Jerry Beagley rode bulls and Kevin Rich fought them. It’s where Dr. Garry Brower has coached great student athletes and built a legacy that he’s handed off to Rumford.

“We’ve had some great athletes that have been part of our program over the years,” Rumford said. “They know they’re going to be tested every week. A real cowboy knows the challenges he faces, and he wants to tackle them head-on.”

The rodeo will feature more than 550 contestants from 27 schools in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The reigning women’s all-around and breakaway roping national champion is scheduled to be part of the 2011 competition at Doug Phillip Arena. Jordan Muncy-Taton is a senior at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, and she helped her team to a third-place finish in the College National Finals Rodeo last June.

The Fort Hays State men’s team is led by Cody Pratt, who is third in the circuit’s steer wrestling standings. He’ll need a strong showing to close out the rodeo season if he’s going to qualify for the CNFR. Troy Crowser of Panhandle State won the Resistol Saddle Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year award last year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association – unlike other professional sports, collegians can compete in ProRodeo while maintaining there eligibility.

But the history of great rodeo in the Central Plains Region runs deep. Just look at the 1990s, where a team from the circuit made up of rodeos primarily in Kansas and Oklahoma won the college championship from 1992-2001.

“This always has been a tough region, and I don’t see that changing any time soon,” Rumford said. “That’s what makes coming to this rodeo so much fun, because you’re going to see the best kids in the country.”

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