PRCA Timer of the Year: Kim Sutton
While Sutton Rodeo has produced legends in the arena, Kim Sutton is making a name for herself behind the timing desk at the rodeo.
Sutton was honored with the award during the PRCA’s annual Awards Banquet at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on December 5.
She was among the five timers nominated for the award, including Jayme Pemberton, Shawna Ray, Allison France, and her daughter, Amy Muller. The award was voted on by PRCA contestants, contractors, and committees from across the nation.
It was an honor that delighted her. “It’s really overwhelming,” she said. “There are so many other people who could just as well” have won the award. This is the first year the PRCA has had a Timer of the Year award, and when it was first announced, Sutton said, “There are hundreds of good timers. How do you pick one?
Sutton got her start timing rodeos in 1982, when she became engaged to Steve Sutton, the third generation of the family’s rodeo stock contracting company. She spent that year shadowing Steve’s mom Julie and Bea Hutson, wife of announcer John Hutson, who announced a lot of the Sutton rodeos.
Since then, she’s timed hundreds of rodeos, and knows the importance of a good timer. “When you’re timing, it’s definitely not for the fans, but for the contestants.” Big or little, each rodeo is important. “Fifty dollars won at Onida (rodeo) in the summer could be the fifty dollars to win the world (title) in December. Every run, anywhere you are, is just as important and equal. It’s very important to be on your game.”
And concentrating on timing is crucial to the job. “The important thing is to not get distracted, no matter what’s going on around you, in the announcer’s stand or in the arena,” she said. “Focus in on what you’re doing, get your time recorded, and get ready for the next run.” She recalls an incident at the River City Round-Up in Omaha that required focus. “I had a photographer poking me in the back, telling me to move so he could video. I had to stay focused on timing and take care of the photographer at the end of the run.”
She also remembers her mother-in-law reminding her that during the rodeo, timing was her first priority. Steve was steer wrestling early in their marriage, and they were at a rodeo in Huron, S.D. when he had a wreck in the arena, going end over end. You can’t leave your job at that moment, Julie reminded her. Steve wasn’t hurt, but it drove home the importance of the job at hand.
Her favorite parts of the job are the interaction with the people and contributing to the rodeo. “The working relationships with the secretary, the judges, the committee,” are satisfying, she said. “You’re a part of the team and everybody helps everybody and has each other’s backs.” She’s able to clarify to the announcer which contestant is next, if there is a ten-second penalty or if the judges are rolling on to the next contestant. “It helps production. There are a lot of things you can do to make a smoother show. The better it works for everybody, the better a teammate you are. We’re all responsible for accurate times for the contestants and providing them to the fans.”
She times, alongside her daughter Amy, at all of the Sutton rodeos, including pro rodeos, 4-H and college rodeos, and has been selected to work the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo six times, the first time in 1987. Her kids were young then, and she chose to not put her name in for selection until her three children, Brent, Brice and Amy, were grown. “Steve couldn’t be home (he was working the WNFR) and I felt strongly that I needed to be at home with the kids for their school and activities.” She was selected to work the WNFR in 1987, 2011-13, 2017 and this year. Last year, she worked alongside her daughter, Amy, which was special to both of them. This year’s timers at the WNFR were Sutton, Jayme Pemberton, Terrell, Texas and Toby Dunlavy, Laramie, Wyoming.
The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo sponsored the Timer of the Year Award. As winner, Sutton received a Montana Silversmith buckle, a monetary award, and a pair of Justin Boots.