Back in the Saddle


Skyla Teel

National Champions

James Peru

Try as you might, you are not likely to find any real cowboys catching the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or any real cowgirls frantically waving pom-poms and watching from the sidelines. And while the cowgirls and cowboys that grace the pages of Larry McMurty novels may seem every bit authentic, sadly they are only fictional.
However, if cowgirls and cowboys are what you are looking for, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will find them at the College National Finals Rodeo, held each summer in Casper, WY.
The C.N.F.R. is a weeklong rodeo, and with only the top few riders from each school participating, the competition doesn’t get any better.
Last summer, while most of us college students were using the time off from school to recover from the damages of academic stress, Macy Fuller (22), Devin Cordova (20) and Cheyenne Sherwood (19), the three riders chosen by Head Coach Joe Moody to represent the women’s team at the C.N.F.R., were packing their bags, rounding up their livestock and getting ready to make the 16-hour trip north to the heart of Wyoming. Once there, they would be expected to compete, not only against other junior colleges, but universities as well, for the National Title.
“It’s such a rush,” said Sherwood, when recalling the experience of making it there. “There are people everywhere and it’s really loud; there’s an announcer and there’s music blaring. When you ride into the arena and know it’s the College National Finals you just want to do your best, for yourself and for your team.”
While most events require only a single rider, coming away with a team win is a collective effort. All of the points earned in events by each individual member, throughout the competition, are compiled and added to the team score. The team that ends up with the most points walks away with the title.
After a long week of tying goats, roping calves and riding barrels, our women’s team headed into the final round of competition in fifth place. With Cordova and Sherwood already through with all of their events, it was up to Fuller to come away with the win.
Winning the goat-tie in the short go-round, and tying for first place in breakaway roping, Fuller catapulted her team from fifth to first place, securing the women their first National Title in 35 years, and winning herself the individual title of “All-Around Cowgirl” in the process.
“It was a great feeling,” said Fuller, when describing the victory. “It really showed that all the hard work had paid off. When I knew that we had won it, my whole body kind of went numb.”
“We’ve been close with the girls a lot of times, so this was an important win,” said Coach Joe Moody.
In college rodeo, winning is a must; and unlike most college sports, where the school is expected to provide athletes with all of the necessities, the members of college rodeo teams are on their own.
“We pay for transportation; we pay to feed our horses; we pay for our horse’s vet bills and shoeing, entry fees. There is so much money that goes into it,” explains Sherwood. “But we can also win money back, so that drives us to do better.”
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Coach Moody. “You’ve gotta go there planning to win.”
With the stakes so high, only the serious riders end up sticking with the sport. Most of the riders on the team have been doing it their whole lives.
“I’ve done junior rodeo, junior high rodeo and high school rodeo,” says Cordova. “Usually when you succeed you just want to keep going on.”
These aren’t your everyday men and women, who decided to join the rodeo team because they fancied themselves in a cowboy hat and a leather vest, sitting atop a horse and riding off into a dusky sunset; they are cowgirls and cowboys born and bred, who have literally grown up in the saddle.
Winning a National Title is a huge deal. But if you look around campus, you are not likely to see any students wearing t-shirts commemorating the 2014 women’s rodeo team, or flying small flags from the windows of their cars…why not?
Perhaps it is because, unlike all of our other teams, we don’t get to see them compete very often. In fact, the only chance to see them compete at home this year will be next semester, on March 14th and 15th at the Florence Rodeo Grounds.
“We are always trying to get people to come out and support the team,” says Professor of Reading and Director of Team Operations, Skyla Teel. “It’s CAC’s only chance to come and see their team compete.”d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);