Saddling up

It’s rodeo season. SHSU is showing its spirit, and it’s showing that spirit on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

Preparing for the SHSU rodeo, the SHSU rodeo team had the opportunity to trial run the professional Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at Reliant Stadium in Houston over the weekend. A picture of the team at Reliant Stadium was featured on the front page of Tuesday’s Chronicle.

The trail rodeo was performed in its entirety, with all the bells and whistles the public gets to see this week.

The Houston Rodeo needed a team to test the stadium because this is the first year a rodeo will be held in the newly built location. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association gave the Houston Rodeo a list of college rodeo teams in the southern district, and Houston picked SHSU.

“They picked us, so that was really good,” said Roger Hanagriff, advisor for the rodeo team.

Because of the “dry run,” the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is now a sponsor of the SHSU rodeo team.

“Rodeo Houston became one of our major sponsors,” Hanagriff said. “They did a $1,000 sponsorship for us.”

The Houston Rodeo also made a tape of the performance for the group to have as a keepsake.

The SHSU rodeo team will host a rodeo Feb. 27 through March 1 at the Walker County Fairgrounds off of State Highway 30 in Huntsville.

As a member of the southern region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, SHSU is required to host a rodeo. Schools in the southern region come from all over Texas and Louisiana.

With Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin State University as two of SHSU’s biggest rivals, representatives of each of the 27 schools in the southern region will attend SHSU’s rodeo this weekend. A total of 300 contestants will enter the rodeo.

Of the 45 members of the rodeo team, 32 men and 13 women will participate in different events. The events include bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronco riding, steer wrestling, goat tying, breakaway roping, bull riding and team riding.

The rodeo kicks off Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. with “college night.” Students who attend get half off the admission price with a student I.D.

Friday at 7:30 p.m. is the Children’s Calf Scramble. Kids come to the rodeo, put a ribbon on a goat and then the goats are set free to run around. The children then chase the animals, catch them and untie the ribbon. If they untie a ribbon, the children get to take the goat home.

More rodeo events take place on Saturday afternoon; however, the SHSU rodeo team will host a “Special Kids Rodeo” at 11:30 a.m.

The Bayes Achievement Center in Huntsville, a school for challenged children, will come to the fairgrounds for an interactive, private rodeo geared for kids. Twenty-five children will have the opportunity to go horseback riding, rope a dummy and will all receive a prize package courtesy of the rodeo team.

“You put them on a horse and they just light up,” Hanagriff said.

The main rodeo events will begin at 2 p.m. and will be televised on April 21 and 23 on the Outdoor Channel. SHSU is the first college to ever have its rodeo televised.

“We’re excited – we did it first,” Hanagriff said.

The rodeo team must pay to have a televised rodeo.

“It made our budget double,” Hanagriff said.

Sponsors of the SHSU rodeo team pay for the rodeo in its entirety, and help pay for the telecast. The team must sell 12 commercials to cover the cost of the Outdoor Channel coverage. So far the team has almost met its goal.

“This is the major fundraising even we have,” Hanagriff said of the rodeo.

All money raised from sponsors goes to a university account to fund rodeo performance scholarships.

Students participating in the rodeo pay the majority of their own expenses, with help from the scholarships.

Sponsors of the team other than the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo include Rio Vista Horse Products, Hillcrest Ford, SHSU and the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce.

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