Before apple pie, before baseball, there was the old west and rodeo. Could there be anything more American than rodeo?

Rodeo is a compilation of all of the skills required to survive in the rugged old west. If you didn’t perfect those skills, quite simply, you could die. Over a hundred years ago a rodeo was an event between two ranches for the cowboys to see who was the best. This competition gave cowboys a way to perfect their skills.

Last weekend the UVU Rodeo team held its home rodeo in Heber City, Utah. This was no slapped together event, the announcer was awesome and the cowboys and cowgirls trained to perfection, there were crazy bucking horses, huge bulls, big steers, handsome cowboys and gorgeous cowgirls. Slipping into the arena you enter a different world, there are no sagging pants here. Cowboys wear their jeans tight and cowgirls carry ropes. The speakers broadcast loud country music with just a bit of rock mixed in.

Rodeo people are a patriotic bunch; their love of America was strong, sure, and easily felt as a horse and rider carried the American flag at a gallop around the arena as the Star Spangled Banner was sung and all hats covered hearts. Adding to this patriotic moment Thursday was Shad Bond, a member of the UVU rodeo team and National Guard soldier. Recently returned from Iraq, Shad carried the American flag in his guardsman camouflage fatigues. No-one questioned the attire as the place was filled with veterans. Shad said he salutes the patriotism of the rodeo community and that he is honored to carry the flag for them.

These young people and their families have a hard work ethic, everyone is helping. It takes a lot of time; money and sacrifice to get good at rodeo events, the animals and training are very expensive. Head coach Shane Draper, when asked said, “a good roping horse or barrel racing horse has to be trained for three or four years to get good at their job. The amount of money it takes to do this is easily within the tens of thousands.”

The UVU rodeo team was the school’s first athletic program and they are still going strong, after this weekend both the men’s and women’s teams are in 2nd place and will be hard to knock out of the running for the national title. The team and several individual members, at least six boys and most of the girl’s team are very near to qualifying, if not already have, for the College National Rodeo held in Casper, Wyoming in May.