By Kyle Partain, NHSRA Media Coordinator
Well, I’ve been in Gallup, N.M., for a week and a half now and there are some things that have caught my attention in recent days that didn’t get mentioned anywhere else. So, I’m throwing them all in this one blog post — kind of like when you’re making stew at home and you just keep throwing in whatever you can find in the kitchen.
* If you look at the pages and pages (and page and pages) of results from the first round that ended Wednesday morning, your head will start to spin pretty quickly. Trust me, I know. But what gets lost in the endless names and numbers of a rodeo with 12 events and 943 contestants is that there’s a real person behind each of those names.
I won’t have the opportunity to get to know each of them this week, but they are living, breathing people. They’ve laughed and they’ve cried this week at Red Rock Park. They’ve left blood and sweat on the arena floor, and they should be commended for making the trip here and giving it their best.
This really hit home two days ago. I was standing out at the arena watching breakaway roping and a cowgirl missed her first-round calf. Knowing her chance at a national title in the event was over before the week had really even begun, she couldn’t control her emotions. You could see the tears start to well up the minute she missed. By the time she hit the back gate, she was sobbing.
This week isn’t about a bunch of names on a piece of paper. It’s about real life, and the thousands of hours our contestants have put in to get here. Maybe those hours seem like a waste when your loop falls to the ground in the first round. But losing — just like winning — is a part of life. If you’re truly living life, you’re going to lose sometimes.
And don’t think it’s just the girls. I’ve seen more than one cowboy in tears this week, as well.
On the other end of the spectrum, is the pure joy of making a great run. I watched Tuesday as a proud father jumped three panels with a smile as big as Texas on his face to congratulate his daughter for her great run in barrel racing. He was excited, she was excited, heck I was excited for them. She didn’t win the round or anything, but she made a run that each of them deemed successful. So, they celebrated.
* I complained a little earlier in the week about running off to interview contestants who had taken the lead only to find out that someone beat their time or score while I was doing the interview.
While that’s frustrating, I have to admit that chasing contestants all over Red Rock Park is my favorite part of the job. There’s a certain sense of adventure that comes with trying to track down a complete stranger.
On Tuesday, I talked with Josey Powell from Kentucky only to find out that her breakaway time got beat a few ropers later. That led to my search for Jade Boote of North Dakota. Unable to reach anyone on the phone numbers I had for the family, I looked up where she was camped and headed out on my golf cart. On my way to Afghanistan — our nickname for the northern campgrounds — I picked up another North Dakota contestant who led me right to Jade’s trailer.
Of course, no one was home. So, I headed back to the media office and continued trying the phone numbers I had for her. Eventually, her dad answered and sent Jade to my office for a quick interview.
Last night, I met a handful of contestants from British Columbia as I tried to track down chute dogger Chance Bolin. I missed his run while traveling back from appearing on a television show (more on that in a minute), and then apparently just missed finding him in the campground. Eventually, we connected and got the interview done.
* Made my second appearance on the local sports cable show hosted by Sammy C on Wednesday. For those of you old enough to remember, think Wayne’s World from Saturday Night Live. It’s not filmed in someone’s basement, at least.
Sammy is a great guy who has supported our event in a number of ways through the years, so it’s always fun to go and make an appearance. There could be five people watching, there could be 5,000. I really have no idea. I took student vice president Makenah Gibson and her dad along and we all appeared on the show with Sammy.