In the Company of Kings Rodeo
It was one of those weeks when I felt like Forrest Gump. In the movie, he frequently found himself in the company of presidents, Hall of Famers and kings. In my week at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, I found myself shaking hands with rodeo royalty; Roy Cooper, Ty Murray, Lewis Feild, Larry Mahan and Trevor Brazile. Each an All Around World Champion with enough buckles between them to sink Bob Tallman to the bottom of the pool!
There is something about the kind of people who achieve greatness. They have a presence. When they walk into a room or ride into the arena, it’s like putting a big frog in the aquarium; the water level changes for everybody.
There is mental toughness in these champions that allows them to play through pain, to push the envelope, to deal with adversity; be it a bad draw, a strained knee or a muddy track. They have the practiced ability to concentrate on the job they’re doin’ even when the canvas is flappin’, the reins are tangled and the wheel’s comin’ off the wagon!
Ty Murray, 7 times All Around World Champion, was asked about Trevor Brazile’s 6th All Around World Championship win after the 2008 National Finals Rodeo. Ty said he expected Trevor would surpass his 7 wins and set a new record. He credited Trevor’s youth, but he emphasized his determination, work ethic and drive.
Ty made an observation that I have noticed in many fields of endeavor; there is only one guy who can beat the most naturally gifted competitor… that is the guy who works the hardest. However, if you are naturally talented AND work the hardest, you are unbeatable. That describes all these World Champions.
When Ty won his 7th All Around World Championship in 1998, he broke Larry Mahan’s record of 6. Larry had held it for 25 years after besting Jim Shoulders’s record of 5. All three of these champions worked the rough stock events; saddle broncs, bareback and bulls. At the time Ty broke Larry’s record, Larry had graciously congratulated Ty and crowned him King of the Cowboys. Which meant, of course, that Larry acknowledged he, himself, was the Queen.
Now with Trevor Brazile barking at Ty’s heels, Ty asked Larry, “What happens if Trevor beats my 7 championships?” Would Ty, himself, then become Queen? And Larry be moved down the ladder to become the Prince of the Cowboys? Larry gave it a flicker of thought and said, “Nah, he’s just a roper.”