Saddle up, buckle down... and enjoy the ride
March 11, 2010
By Amy Sunseri
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.--Spectators crowded into Fort Huachuca's Wren Arena, March 6, for the Cochise College Rodeo.
The collegiate cowboys and cowgirls competed in saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding, team and break-away roping, steer wrestling, goat tying, barrel racing and more.
This is the fourth year the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation has brought the event to Fort Huachuca.
"I think this was one of the best weekends. We had a great turnout on Friday and Saturday," said James Thomas, FMWR special events coordinator, who noted the rodeo is put on each year through a partnership with the Sierra Vista Riding Club and Cochise College.
"Each year it gets better. Seems like we get more contestants and people to come out and watch each year," said Thomas.
Students taking part in the rodeo said they look forward to competing on Fort Huachuca.
"This rodeo has more crowd interaction. It's more family oriented. We get more kids at this one than any other rodeo I compete in," said Staci Stranbrough, regional student director.
Young spectators had the chance to take part in the rodeo Saturday during the morning's Exceptional Rodeo. This event is a unique rodeo that gives special needs children a chance to see what it feels like to be a real-life cowboy or cowgirl. It pairs college competitors with participating children to guide them through their rodeo events.
About a hundred youth participated in the "Calf Scramble," Saturday afternoon. In this competition, the youngsters had to chase after calves and grab a ribbon off their tails. All young rodeo participants received ribbons.
Rodeo clown Nate Reed says it's all about bringing laughter and joy to our heroes and their Families.
"[A] big thanks to all of the fans. The people on base have been very friendly; [they're] such nice people, and it's appreciated," said Reed.
FMWR brings the rodeo to the fort each year for the Soldiers. It's a free event for military personnel. He says all FMWR events are free to Soldiers.
"We want the Soldiers to come out and enjoy themselves. Our goal is to get every Soldier out here at all of our events," Thomas said.
The Cochise College Rodeo this past weekend brought students from approximately 10 colleges and universities from across Arizona and New Mexico to the arena.
"I love it; it's a lot of fun," said Dan Curtin, bull rider.
Students said the rodeo helps them stay focused in school. If they don't have good grades then they can't ride. The students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average and take 12 credits to stay eligible to compete in the rodeo.
"We're full-time students and rodeo riders on the weekend," Curtin added. The students compete in 10 rodeos; four in the fall and six in the spring. Finalists go on to compete in the College National Finals Rodeo, the "Rose Bowl" of college rodeo.
"I just want to thank the Soldiers for letting us come out here and compete," said Stranbrough.