Rodeo team member takes his turn in the arena for a
shot at the big-time
By Brooke Barker
September 29, 2006 | Every rider hopes to make
it to the short-go-round on the big night, but
only those who have proven themselves among the
top 10 have a chance to compete for the prize.
It's a night for belt buckles, bulls, broncos
and bareback riding. Those who choose this fate
and way of life are bound to experience a few
bruises and perhaps a broken bone, but sometimes
it takes guts to gain glory.
"I want to fix the mistakes from the week
before and improve on that. I also try to win,"
said Cole Smith.
Smith is a member of the Utah State University
Rodeo Team and no stranger to cowboy pride. The
23-year-old from Georgetown, Idaho, grew up on
a ranch and began competing in rodeos at a time
when most boys his age were learning to ride a
bike without training wheels.
"My dad knew a guy who was really into roping,
so he came up and started teaching them (his brothers
and sister). I was about six and got into it and
have been doing it ever since," he said.
"I started with goat-tying and calf-riding
and went up from there."
ROPIN' AND RASSLIN':
Lynette Smith, above, practices her roping skills
Wednesday night before the USU rodeo Saturday.
She and her husband, Cole, are on the team, and
the competition has been a family tradition. Below,
John Reese, a member of the rodeo team, gets on
the ground quickly while practicing Wednesday
night. / Photos by Brooke Barker
While at USU, Smith has competed in
events such as calf-roping, team-roping and steer-wrestling.
He attended the Idaho State Rodeo Finals in Pocatello,
Idaho, four years in a row and, in 2005, had the opportunity
to head to the National College Rodeo Finals in Casper,
Wyo., after earning second place in the Rocky Mountain
Region for calf-roping.
"I had a lot of fun, but I didn't do very well
out there (Casper, Wyo.)," he said. "I had
bad luck with my horse and calf. You never always do
good. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't."
Smith manages to fit in some time every week with his
horses despite a busy schedule. He works full-time,
takes online classes and recently married his sweetheart
Lynette, a fellow rodeo competitor. The two can often
be seen practicing their roping on Wednesday nights
with other team members and competing together at events
on the weekends. Smith also competes professionally
during the summer but wishes he could do it more often.
"I guess you could say I'm a weekend warrior,"
he said. "That's someone who works and goes to
school during the week and rodeos on the weekend."
Smith often travels with the team during the school
year, but occasionally travels with his wife and younger
sister to different competitions.
"It's a family thing," he says. "While
you mostly travel with your family, when you get to
the rodeo everyone is there for every one else, no matter
if they're a relative or not."
This relationship between the competitors nearly eliminates
the need to impress or show up their friends.
"Competing with your friend is the best part about
it," Smith said. He remembered a good friend from
high school who also competed in rodeos. "When
one of us would do good, the other would be excited,
and then when the other went out to compete, you'd tell
him good luck. If he ended up doing better, it meant
This same friend and another traveled with competing
rodeos across the country in 2004 after Smith returned
from serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Between the three friends,
they traveled nearly 20,000 miles and earned more than
"The difference between rodeos and sports like
basketball and football is that if you go to a rodeo
and someone's horse gets hurt the night before, and
they ask to use your horse, of course you say yes,"
Smith said. "Most people do it because you get
25 percent of the winnings if they win on your horse,
and it makes you feel good to think that you have a
horse other people want to ride. If they win it proves
After Smith graduates, he hopes to return to Georgetown,
take over his father's ranch and continue competing
in rodeos as much as he can.
"I hope to keep rodeoing until I can't walk any
more," Smith said.
Smith is just one of 19 members on the USU Rodeo Team.
The team travels as far as Boise and Cedar City competing
in 10 events throughout the year. This Friday and Saturday
will be the home competition for the team at the Logan
Jeffery Hall, the team's adviser, said this is the
team's main fund-raising event to cover expenses throughout
the year. Each member of the team is responsible for
selling a certain number of tickets and working on getting
sponsors for the different shoots.
Hall said he's sent at least one member of the team
to nationals, and sometimes as many as four members,
since he became the adviser in 2002.
"I think we have a pretty good team this year for
USU," said Smith. "Legitimately, I think 7
or 8 could qualify for different events at nationals."
The long-go round starts Friday night at 7 p.m. and
continues Saturday at 1 p.m. The final rodeo, or short-go
round will be Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It's all about the luck of the draw," Smith
said of calf-roping. "It doesn't matter if you
draw a bad calf and someone else draws a good one. Even
if you're a better roper and rider, they have the better
chance of winning because they have a better calf."
Come out and see if Smith and other team members get
lucky this weekend as they try to beat the clock and
compete with their friends. Perhaps a little bit of
that cowboy pride will shine through, because no guts
means no glory.