It’s no secret that rodeo is one big family, so when days like Father’s Day roll around each year, they’re immensely special and sacred for a number of men in ProRodeo who are dads.
Rodeo is a sport passed down from generation to generation, with young boys and girls idolizing their fathers and dreaming of one day following them into the arena. It’s a way of life for those who grow up wearing boots and cowboy hats, slinging ropes and riding horses.
So, with Father’s Day on Sunday, there’s no doubt families will be enjoying the special day at a rodeo arena somewhere, with kids staying close to their proud fathers and everyone cherishing the experience. After all, family comes first in rodeo.
“I think it’s great that (kids) can look up to their dads, see them be successful and want to do what they did,” two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Cody Wright said. “If they do, it seems like they wind up doing it better. They say nothing great was built in one generation anyway.”
Fathers and sons have not only competed together in ProRodeo through the years, but have excelled. Most recently, bareback rider Kaycee Feild and tie-down roper Tuf Cooper followed in their Hall of Fame fathers’ footsteps by winning world titles in 2011 and again last December.
Feild, the son of three-time World Champion All-Around Cowboy Lewis Feild, is a bonafide ProRodeo star who is expected to be a gold-buckle contender for the next decade. The same goes for Cooper, whose famous father is none other than Roy “Super Looper” Cooper.
It was great to see how the proud papas beamed from ear to ear with joyous smiles after their sons picked up their first world titles in 2011, and the young stars are a great example of how the sport perpetuates itself through families that live the lifestyle 24/7.
Some of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo’s most interesting records involve families and fathers. For instance, the father-son-daughter trio of Dick (team roping), J.D. (team roping) and Kelly Yates (barrel racing) all qualified for the 1984 NFR, and there have been two father and two-son combos qualify for the Finals in the same year. In 1983, James, Guy and Gip Allen all competed in the National Finals Steer Roping, with Dan, Vin and Tom Fisher repeating the feat at the same event in 2010.
Those are some pretty amazing family accomplishments.
No one values family more than Wright. The oldest of seven siblings, Wright has five children of his own, with his oldest boys already making waves in the sport as well.
He’s proud of his children like most dads, but isn’t pushing them into the sport he loves. He’d prefer they gravitate to it naturally.
“I just hope they find something they’re happy doing,” said Wright, who won his gold buckles in 2008 and 2010. “That’s what matters the most, and I definitely don’t think that’s something you can pick for someone else. Whatever they do, I just hope they do it well.”
The fact that his teenage sons Rusty, Ryder and Stetson and 9-year-old Statler have shown a passion for competing in rodeo as well is just an added bonus for Wright.
“They do work at it pretty hard right now, and they all act like they’re pretty dang interested in it,” Wright said. “They can rope and ride and do whatever. I’m pretty proud.”
Two-time World Champion Steer Wrestler Dean Gorsuch is the proud father of three, and rodeo has been a mainstay in his life for as long as he can remember. Learning from his grandfather and father, Marvin, Gorsuch grew up loving the sport.
“My grandpa and my dad have been the biggest deals in my career, and they both helped me out a lot,” said Gorsuch, the bulldogging world champ in 2006 and 2010. “They still do to this day.”
Now, with his boys – 8-year-old Taydon, 4-year-old Trell and 4-month-old Teagan – rodeo remains a big part of their lives. Like Wright, Gorsuch isn’t pushing the sport on any of his kids.
“Whatever they want to do is fine; I just love being with them,” Gorsuch said. “My middle boy, Trell, he loves rodeo, and if you ask him what his favorite sport is, he’ll say steer wrestling. My oldest one is big into baseball. I never played baseball, and it is so much fun to go and watch him play.
“We were supposed to have a jackpot, but he had a baseball game and so I didn’t go to the jackpot. I had a lot more fun at the game than I know I would have at the jackpot.”
Gorsuch treasures being a father far more than any of his rodeo accomplishments.
“It’s an honor,” Gorsuch said of fatherhood. “You love them more than anything, and they’re your best friends. Having my boys is dang sure the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
It’s always a treat to go to a rodeo and see little boys and girls all decked out in cowboy gear just like their parents, and it’s often a great photo opportunity as well. Then, to see young professional cowboys follow their fathers to the Wrangler NFR and even win world titles like their dads is particularly awesome.
As the son of a former high school state all-around and bull riding champ, I’ve always been proud of my dad’s accomplishments in the arena, even if they came more than a decade before I was even a glint in his eye. The family aspect of ProRodeo is, in my opinion, one of the things that makes it a unique and endearing sport, and fathers play a big role in that.
So, here’s a tip of the Resistol to my dad and rodeo dads everywhere.