Itís a Tough Job, but Someone Has to Do It

 By Lindsay Whelchel


Being one of the top-15 bull riders competing at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is an accomplishment felt by more than one CBR rider. And though their arena workload is the most watched, and intense, the responsibilities of the riders go far beyond an eight second ride. 

ďItís a lot more into it than just showing up at night,Ē explained Cody Teel. He added, ďThat alone can be pretty rough on a guy, up and down like a roller coaster if you let it get that way.Ē But the rest of the itinerary is fast paced in itís own amusement ride style. There are appearances at events and for the media, as well as autograph signings for sponsors, among other commitments.  ďYouíve just got to stay pretty laidback and donít get too tall from all the hoopla. It can swallow you up pretty fast,Ē Teel said. ďYouíve just got to try to stay well balanced if you can.Ē 

A typical day in Vegas for Teel is to get up around 8 oíclock and start autograph signings around 10 a.m. Heíll usually do multiple appearances in a day and after the performance, heíll sometimes be booked to an after show appearance or event. 

ďA lot of times you want to sleep in a little bit, because no matter what you do I donít get in bed until at least 12 or one, by the time you eat and everything thatís how it is. Itís pretty nonstop," Teel said, "but itís enjoyable if you learn how to manage it all". 

All ten days the cowboys navigate the already astonishing crowds and hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, with the added influx of tens of thousands of rodeo fans to the city. 

ďItís really cool getting to meet everybody from all over the place and see people that follow you throughout the year, and when you come here everybody is so into it so it makes it pretty special that you have people that support you,Ē Teel said.

Trey Benton agrees. Itís his favorite part of the NFR. ďFavorite part is the people. The amount of people that come watch you, itís the biggest rodeo in the world, so that definitely puts the icing on the cake.Ē Benton added that meeting people is also good on a professional level. 

ďYouíre signing all over Vegas during this time of year and definitely meeting people,Ē Benton said and explained that those people also include spending time with current sponsors as well as making connections with new ones.

Logistically, making it from place to place isnít as hard for Benton, who has his dad traveling with him, and they have a rental car, as well as only sign at a few staple locations throughout the festivities. 

But the trip is still very much a business trip. ďItís a lot more difficult than what you see on TV when you get here in the bright lights and everything, youíve got business to tend to, but just getting over that hump is the biggest thing,Ē Benton says. That hump can be the potential for disappointment inside the arena.

ďItís just a matter of keeping it out of your head and knowing that youíre going to do it,Ē he said of his mental attitude throughout each round.

While in Vegas, Benton makes a point to work out and stay at the top of his game on a physical level too, which includes allowing ample time before each perf to ice his knees in sports medicine. 

Once itís show time, nothing can quite compare to the experience in the Thomas & Mack Center. 

ďItís more than I could have ever dreamed. During the first round in the grand entry, I looked up in front of 18,000 people, thatís when the moment really hit me that Iíd made it and done what I set out to do since I was 3 years old. Thatís a pretty surreal moment for sure,Ē said Sage Kimzey. 

Like Teel and Benton, Kimzey cites meeting rodeo people from all over the country in one city as a highlight. 

ďYou get to see a lot of people you usually donít get to see but once or twice a year, and they all get to meet up here at the same place.Ē 

Kimzey has been coming out to the NFR since he was a child given his father Tedís work as a PRCA barrelman, so he knew sort of what to expect. He and his dad also drove out to Vegas, so itís helped them logistically to navigate their itinerary. But he does admit the surreal factor has surprised him. ďThis whole ride has just been crazy this week,Ē he said. 

And these cowboys have to hang on tight, because the ride isnít over yet!