Trevor Brazile, 32, is on a major-league mission that started way back in his diaper days in Gruver, Texas. And while his mom, Glenda Brazile, couldn’t be happier for his accomplishments (six world all-around championships and counting), it’s his character and integrity that she’s most proud of.
“Your goal in life is to be a world champion. My goal for you is to have a good Christian heart with lots of friends. I hope we both get our wish,” is how she phrased it in the best-wishes ad in his 1995 senior high school yearbook, which ran with a picture of him roping.
That’s what rodeo moms do. We love our babies (like all moms do), and try to teach them life’s most important lessons—the ones that will serve them beyond their glory days in the arena. We don’t push them into being cowboys and cowgirls; we stand behind them to support whatever they choose. And if their passion happens to be rodeo, we’re there for them win, lose, or draw.
Lots of kids wish for things, but very few are willing to put out the blood and sweat it takes to get there. According to his mom Trevor has always had that special drive about him.
“When Trevor was little bitty, he didn’t have a security blanket. He had a cotton rope, ” Glenda remembers. “It’s the only thing he ever played with, and he was known to rope the babysitter’s cat with it. When we’d be at a roping event when he was young, you could always find him over at the roping dummy—roping that thing to the point of exhaustion and blistered hands.”
The rodeo world still weeps the loss of Lane Frost 20 years ago on July 30, 1989 at the “Daddy of ’em All,” the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Frost was a friend of mine, and I know how proud he’d have been to see people in his family tree continue to flourish in the sport he so dearly loved. His widow, the former Kellie Kyle, is now the wife of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo team roper Mike Macy. Their kids, Aaron and Brogan, are thriving at the timed-event end of the arena, as are Lane’s sister Robin Frost Muggli’s boys.
Robin and her husband, Mark, are raising Wyatt, 13, and Reno, 11, in rural Lane, Oklahoma. “We’re ranchers,” Robin says. “I rode a horse and helped gather and weigh cattle the day before Wyatt was born. We’re horseback every day, and my kids have been horseback since they could sit up. So rodeo is a natural sport for us.”
Rodeo teaches kids about sportsmanship and integrity, she says, stressing rodeo’s family aspect.
“We all go together, and family time pays off,” Robin asserts. “My hope is that my kids will have the foundation to make wise decisions as adults.”
Kids need direction, something to do. And most rodeo moms would agree that their children don’t have to commit to the cowboy sport, but don’t have the choice of hanging out and doing nothing either.
“Being mad at rodeo would never have entered any of our minds,” Robin says about losing her brother. “We think rodeo’s great. We just can’t imagine doing anything else.”
In fact, Clyde and Elsie Frost, Wyatt and Reno’s maternal grandparents, still sit in their longtime perches right behind the bucking chutes at the NFR and cheer for everyone’s kids and grandkids as if they were their own.
My family had a big time this summer when my youngest, Taylor, 14, won the all-around championship at his national finals, the 2009 Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, N.M. His big brother, Lane, was a high school rodeo rookie this year. But two weeks later at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) in Farmington, N.M., Lane’s second calf didn’t stay tied for the required six seconds, resulting in a no-time.
I was right there with a dose of anti-disappointment perspective. It didn’t take much, to be honest. Just three weeks earlier, Lane had lost his friend Riley Key, 18, in a car crash that also took two other Texas teens. Riley, a roper, was the son of NFR team roper David Key and NFR barrel racer Tammy Key-Fischer.
In two heaven-sent twists of fate, David and his roping partner, Rich Skelton, were the most successful team over this year’s Fourth of July Cowboy Christmas run right after Riley died. And Tammy won the $100,000 Calgary Showdown Round barrel racing bonus in 2009, after finding a piece of wood in the dirt marked with the letter “R” just before her last run.
The rodeo families sitting around me in Farmington wondered why I wasn’t more devastated by Lane’s no-time, and I reminded them just how small one run really is: “What would the Keys give to have a calf get up on Riley today?”
Theresa Carpenter, of Louisiana, lived through a rodeo mom’s second worst nightmare when her son Corbin, then 17, got thumped by a bull at the 2008 National High School Finals in Rodeo. Her baby broke his neck and was paralyzed from the chest down.
I spoke with Theresa on the phone last year but met her and Corbin for the first time at this summer’s NHSFR. I learned that Corbin had been in the hospital for 11 days after the accident, and that he’d had two surgeries on his neck. Doctors determined that his cowboy—and walking—days were over. One year later, though, the outcome has been nothing short of miraculous.
“He went from having no movement from his chest down after the wreck to now, where he can run a mile and rope,” Theresa explained, adding that Trevor Brazile once told her that, “It should be God, family, and rodeo—in that order.”
“That’s the way it should be, and that’s how we live,” said Theresa.
I think many moms out there would agree.