By Mickey Winfield, Freedom New Mexico
The Eastern New Mexico University rodeo team has been busy for days, rounding up calves and steers, and getting ENMU’s Lewis Cooper rodeo arena ready for this weekend’s annual College Daze Rodeo.
The first rodeo of the season began Thursday evening at Lewis Cooper Arena, and ENMU rodeo athletes are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly — from prepping the arena to getting the livestock ready.
“It’s a lot of work to put (a rodeo) on,” first-year ENMU rodeo coach Albert Flinn said. “But the fact that we have the first (rodeo) and it’s one of the biggest ones — the satisfaction comes from putting on one of the largest college rodeos in the region.”
According to Flinn, ENMU rodeo athletes have to balance practice time with rodeo preparation time.
“Besides all of their practice time,” Flinn continued, “They still have to come in here and load calves and steers and untie calves — do everything that is behind the scenes that helps the rodeo run smoothly. That’s the challenge is keeping things rolling and having things ready.”
Rana Terry, a junior breakaway roper from Portales, believes the ENMU competitors have more of a traditional home-field advantage.
“We actually have an advantage,” Terry said. “We get to practice here, so I would say it’s more of an advantage than anything.”
“There is a lot of stuff we have to do, but it’s an exciting time,” Terry said.
Senior team roper Kyle Roberts is fresh off a championship performance at the College National Finals Rodeo last summer, and wants the Hounds and Zias to get off to a great start this season.
“It is our hometown and since it’s my last (home rodeo), of course we’re excited about it. I’m pumped about it and we just have to go out there and win,” Roberts said.
Fellow senior team roper Tyrell Flewelling also competed alongside Roberts in the CNFR in Casper, Wyo.
“They’re our seniors, and they’re going to be the team leaders this year,” Flinn said. “When you have winners, it brings in more winners. That’s the main focus is having quality contestants. That’s a step and that’s how you build a team.”
Portales residents Betty and Melvin Ray were at the rodeo to see their grandson, bull rider Daniel Dictson, compete for Odessa Junior College.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen him,” Melvin said.
“It’s fantastic to see him, I’ll tell you. We’ve been looking, but we haven’t gotten our eye on him yet,” Betty said. “We’re just happy every chance we get to see him ride.”
Another one of the Rays’ grandchildren seriously injured his leg years ago in rodeo competition.
“I’m very nervous,” Betty said. “And everybody says, ‘How can you stand to (watch him)?’ Well, I can’t stand not to (watch him). Because I want to be here for him.”