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Organizational types of rodeo in the Sooner State include professional, collegiate, high school, youth, women’s and ranch. Photos courtesy of Kyla King Photography


Panhandle Rodeo Connections R


By JuliAnn Graham


odeo may look like a rough, competitive sport with every man for himself. But in reality, it is a family affair where the com- petition is friendly and contestants support each other. “Rodeo is a family sport,” Lisa Christensen, a junior on the Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) women’s rodeo team, said. “You make friends and you become one big family.


“Sure, you compete against each other but you also have each other’s back and you support each other. You make lifelong friends doing it.” OPSU in Goodwell, Okla., is well known for its award-winning rodeo team. Coached by rodeo veterans Craig Latham and Robert Etbauer, the university received the College National Champion Men’s Team title at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming in June. The university’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo, held annually in April at Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon, Okla., was named 2013 Rodeo of the Year for the Central Plains Region.


Sarah Mease is part of the WKS Cattle Co. team in the Panhandle.


Lisa Christensen’s sister Cheyenne, a sophomore at Laverne High School, also competes in rodeos. “Rodeo is good for lifelong friends and it keeps kids out of trouble. You have to practice and ride the horses. You learn responsibility,” she said. Jeff Christensen, Cheyenne and Lisa’s father, serves on the board of the Northwest Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association and is currently president of the Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association (OHSRA). He is a member of Northwestern Electric Cooperative. The OHSRA will have a rodeo in Beaver, Okla., on Sept. 7-8. The Northwest Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association came to Beaver Aug. 16-17 for the first time this year.


32 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


“Rodeo is a really big deal,” Jeff Christensen said. “These kids will rodeo instead of playing other high school sports. We have a cowboy prom for them because a lot of them will miss their proms. We also have an annual awards banquet for them.”


According to Jeff Christensen, the OHSRA awarded $62,000 in scholar- ship to 48 high school seniors who took part in the association. “We want them to better their life and continue their education,” he said. For some, rodeo is a strong part of their overall education. Frank Stump of Goodwell is an entering freshman at OPSU and will be on the men’s rodeo team. His parents, Travis and Karen Stump, are Tri-County Electric Cooperative members. Frank Stump recalls a baby photo where he’s on a horse with his legs around the saddle horn.


“Rodeo is real competitive but it’s a friendly atmosphere,” he said. “At one rodeo a while back, one of our horses was sick and a veterinarian whose daughter was participating in barrels came to look at the animal. He missed part of his daughter’s performance to make sure our horse was okay. We’re there for each other.”


Frank Stump participated in the breakaway team roping at LM Arena Playdays in Guymon when he was younger. Mike and Lori Shannon have hosted the Playdays at their arena for about 12 years. They are held Tuesday nights throughout June and July.


“We pride ourselves on being a training facility for the young people,” Mike Shannon said. “We get the kids used to competition in a relaxed, family atmosphere.”


Tri-County Electric Cooperative was named the LM Arena Playdays Premium Sponsor for 2013. The Shannons are members of the cooperative. Funds raised through sponsorships were used to award prizes to the partici- pants, who pay a nominal fee. Boise City, Okla., will have its first Cimarron County Junior Rodeo this year in conjunction with the county fair. Scheduled for Sept. 14, the junior rodeo is for ages 4 to 18 and will have boys and girls divisions for each event. Concessions from the event will benefit the local 4-H club while prize money for participants will be awarded from sponsorships and participant fees.


Sam Soell, a Tri-County Electric Cooperative member from Boise City, is helping to organize the junior rodeo. Events will include barrels, flags,


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