Tim Shirley walked behind the stalls at the El Pinal Rodeo Arena, but he so desperately wanted to be part of the action instead of an innocent bystander at the 47th annual Evergreen Rodeo.
That’s been the case for two years running, however, since the 31-year-old Bailey resident broke the L5 vertebra in his back during a February 2012 rodeo event in San Antonio, Texas. He hasn’t ridden since.
“I’m trying to be smart now. I’ve got one 4-year-old at home and a baby on the way. There are more important things to do before I do something stupid,” Shirley said.
That, however, doesn’t always make it easy. If anything, it’s difficult to just stand by and watch.
“It is when you’re not doing it. When I’m working and stuff, I’m fine. But coming out and watching and stuff is way different. It makes it harder,” Shirley said.
He’s been relegated to helping support his family’s company — Shirley Septic Pumping Inc. — with providing portable toilets, including at the Evergreen Rodeo.
Doctors haven’t cleared him to ride, and others have said he’s done, but Shirley holds out hope that one day he will be back. Fellow bareback rider Zach Curran of Pavillion, Wyo., offers a bit of hope. After all, it was four years ago that Curran broke his neck and was told that he would never ride again. But last year Curran got clearance, and he was one of 21 riders in the bareback competition on June 16. Shirley hopes one day he also will be out there again.
ALWAYS A COWBOY
Cowboys are a dying breed. So says Zilla Lapp. And, maybe unfortunately for Lapp, he’s a cowboy. But that doesn’t stop the saddle bronc rider from competing.
“You know what? It’s rough. But the health is good,” the 39-year-old Kittredge resident said. “I love the (heck) out of it. I might as well keep on going.”
Lapp takes a simple approach to riding. It’s just he and the colt. And the Evergreen Rodeo, year in and year out, provides an outlet to take up that challenge. Unfortunately, on June 15, Lapp couldn’t come up with a qualifying ride. But that won’t stop him from getting back up in the saddle another day and trying again.
BACK ON TRACK
It was last year at the Evergreen Rodeo that Littleton’s JD Graham returned to bareback riding. The 22-year-old Chatfield Senior High graduate has been sidelined for 10 months with a broken right wrist.
This year he was back, and he scored the first qualifying ride of the two-day competition with a score of 67. Getting a qualifying score was a nice change of pace, Graham said. After all, he just got his riding permit back a year ago, and he’s finally healthy.
“It was actually really great after yesterday. I kind of messed up a little bit. I had a little fight with myself,” Graham said of his performance at a pro rodeo on June 14 in Steamboat Springs. “There was no money there for me. Here, it felt a lot better. I had a good horse and a pretty good mind-set.”
Graham didn’t win. That honor was shared by Pueblo’s Casey Colletti and Kersey’s Craig Wisehart, who each rode to scores of 83. But Graham, in his own way, is winning just by being back riding.
FEELING THE PAIN
David Streweler has been a familiar face around these parts, in particular at Evergreen and Dumont rodeos, in recent years. The Golden resident and bareback rider has made quite the name for himself at Dumont’s Oh My Gawd Rodeo series. But now, he said, he’s on to bigger and better things.
“I’m just riding in PRCA (Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association) and CPRA (Colorado Pro Rodeo Association) amateur deals,” Streweler said. “I’m trying to go to a lot more of those stuff where I belong so I can try to get better and a bigger name.”
The going was a little tough on him at this year’s Evergreen Rodeo. A nagging groin injury certainly didn’t help matters. He scored a 64 on his first ride, in which he was offered a re-ride. In his second attempt, his score shot up to a 69, but it wasn’t enough to get him into the money. That said, Streweler wouldn’t blame the injury for a lackluster performance.
47th ANNUAL EVERGREEN RODEO RESULTS
The following are the winners from the 2013 two-day weekend event at the El Pinal Rodeo Arena and their winning scores:
Bareback riding: Casey Colletti, Pueblo; Craig Wisehart, Kersey, 83
Steer wrestling: Josh Peek, Pueblo, 4.1
Team roping: Colby Siddoway, Hooper, Utah, and Shay Carroll, La Junta, 4.2
Saddle bronc riding: Shane Menefee, Riverton, Wyo., 67
Tiedown roping: Jeremiah Peek, Pueblo, 10.1
Barrel racing: Shali Lord, Lamar, 17.87
Bull riding: Kody Pierce, Keenesburg; Drew Antone, Kinnear, Wyo., 77
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.