Busy summer for Shirley

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By Brian Forbes

EVERGREEN — It takes a lot longer now to introduce Tim Shirley.

Back when the Conifer resident first started competing at the Evergreen Rodeo in 2001, it was just Shirley the local kid.

Now it’s Shirley the local kid with blond hair who went to the prestigious Nationals in Las Vegas this past winter and placed sixth, pocketed more than $111,000 and is currently ranked 14th in the nation in the bareback event.

“It’s one of those things that kind of pumps you up a little bit,” Shirley said Sunday. “Not in a cocky way; more in a confident way.”

Shirley made his annual appearance at his hometown rodeo and impressed darn near everyone – except the judges.

Shirley got himself a wild horse and did everything to stay on for the eight seconds. It made the large crowd’s teeth chatter just watching, and produced a great response, until the paltry score of 66 was announced.

“It was more one of those crowd-pleaser rides,” Shirley said. “I spurred over the horse’s neck with my right foot, then I got into my hand, upside down and then I finally got back right before the final whistle. It was one of those crazy rides.”

“It was worth it, just because the crowd was cheering,” he said.

Call it a minor bump in the wild ride of an up-and-coming cowboy.

Shirley, 27, got married in January and he and wife Mindy are expecting their first child –a girl – any day now.

He hopes he’ll be around for the birth as he and Mindy’s two brothers are going to Reno, Nev., this week, before driving to another rodeo just outside of Calgary, Alberta before the weekend. Shirley is praying for the baby to be early, or very late.

“Once I have my little girl, I can maybe focus a little bit more,” he said.

Although he didn’t get in the money on Sunday, Shirley said he feels he is riding better than ever.

He’ll also be traveling more than ever. Shirley and brothers-in-law Monty and Micky Downare, both talented bareback riders, recently purchased an old police cruiser for their summer of cruising.

“I don’t mind it at all,” Micky said of having Shirley in the family permanently. “How cool is that when your best friend marries your sister?”

Last year, Shirley estimates he rattled off more than 80,000 miles. Remember, the circumference of the Earth is around 25,000 miles.

That’s a long way to travel, even when you’re an up-and-coming bareback star.