Rodeo athletes struggling with the cancellation of competitions around the country

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

Athletes across the state are struggling to deal with the loss of their seasons, including those who participate in rodeo events.

However, the future is looking bright for PRCC’s rodeo team as a large incoming class of athletes, including Bryce Graves and Kason Davis, will join the program next year.

The team this season only had six athletes, but that number will increase by double digits next year.

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Graves said there are still a few athletes who have to yet to make a concrete decision, but he estimates his program will expand to 18-20 athletes for the 2020-2021 season.

Graves said a big reason for the expansion has been the new buildings the program has added.

Just like in any other sport, the nicer the available facilities the more attractive it is to prospective athletes and Graves is looking to take advantage of that.

“I think the commitment of building a facility and a place to store horses helped a lot to get kids to come. I think that was biggest thing, you had to have something here to want to come to it,” Graves said.

Graves isn’t aiming for mediocrity.

He wants to build one of the top rodeo programs in the nation with a team of about 30-35 athletes.

To do that Graves will need to continue his recruiting and overcome the obstacle of only having the athletes for a two-year period.

“It’s tough on a coach because you only have them for two years. It’s easier at a four year program, but I hope I can bring in this group of kids I’ve already been looking at,” Graves said.

Bryce Graves said the cancellation of competitions will not only deny himself and Davis a chance to repeat as high school national champions in the team roping event, but also prevents new athletes from getting in the spotlight.

The two have been roping partners for years and they know what it’s like to compete under the bright lights in front of a crowd.

While they may have the experience, it’ll be the inexperienced athletes who never reached the top competitions who will be missing out on the most.

“I really like the state finals and the national finals, it’s a lot of fun. But then again I’ve had a chance to be there and win both and others haven’t. I feel for the people who haven’t been able to make it to nationals and go out there,” Graves said.

Rodeo, like other sports, is left to wait and see how long it’ll be before things return to normal again.

“We don’t know how long this deal will last and we were supposed to have state finals in June and nationals in July. I just think everybody has to do their part and everybody stay home. Let’s get this taken care of and get back to normal,” Davis said.