Written on May 7, 2017
My son Cyris just qualified for his first CNFR.
This entire school year – last fall and this spring – has been a struggle for him. He hasn’t been roping at his best. He has put pressure on himself to get points. And that just made the situation worse.
Three weeks ago, he finally started putting some runs together. He was placing in the rounds and the averages, earning a few points here and there. Going into the last weekend of the spring season, he had gone from no standing to eighth in the Regional standings.
He had no hopes of making the CNFR team. He went into the Great Falls rodeo with no expectations. He roped in slack, toward the end, and had one of his fastest times yet: an 8.8. He ended up winning the long go, and led the event going into the short go. He was the last man to rope his calf.
He’s been in this situation before. He hates being the top man back. He puts too much pressure on himself. He forgets to just enjoy the run. He has been the leader before and, in his words, he choked.
This time was different. He waited for his second calf. He watched other men miss. He watched them have bad runs. And his opportunity started to show.
When he backed his horse into the box, he looked calm. Confident. He nodded. He and Fritz went to work. Cy caught just outside the barrier, about the same place as the day before. He had a good dismount and ran down his rope. He had to pick up the calf, but he did it easily. Then he went on automatic. He flanked the calf, strung his string, and tied. One wrap, two, half hitch, and done.
He walked back to Fritz and calmly got back on. He walked his horse forward and waited six seconds. Then the crowd erupted as the announcer said, “9.3”
Cy won the long go, the short go, and the average. And he made it look like just another day at the office.
I was sitting next to his girlfriend during the run. I couldn’t help myself. I was screaming for joy for my son. I hugged Regan.
Then I started looking at points. I mentioned to Regan that he had a shot to slip into the top three. We had to sit and wait through the first round of bulls. They announced that Cy had won the rodeo for the weekend. No surprise.
Then they announced the three men headed to CNFR. The announcer made it clear to the audience just what Cy accomplished that weekend. Because he won every round, he earned enough points to slingshot himself from eighth to third in the standings. He was thrilled for his chance to go.
I’ve known for four years that he had the talent to step up to the next level. But every year, at the qualifying rodeo, things fell apart. Either through bad luck or his own demons. His junior and senior years of high school, he led the tie down standings all year, made it to state, and ended up in the crying hole both years.
Last year, he hung out at the top of the Big Sky Region tie down standings and had a legitimate shot to make CNFR. Then he had a bad last rodeo. And ended up fourth for the year. (They take three.)
This year had gotten so discouraging for him that he admitted he was thinking of quitting. I convinced him to hang in there. Just hold out a little longer. I knew that things would turn around for him.
So much of rodeo is a mental game. Ropers have to be strong enough to shrug off a bad run. Sometimes Cy lets those runs take over his thoughts. He obsesses over his mistakes until they become like a poison in his head.
My hope for him is that this past weekend was a big confidence boost for him. He earned his spot. And now I want him to go to Casper in a few weeks and have another couple of great runs. That could carry him into the summer rodeos and start him toward a breakout junior season next fall.
We’re Casper bound. CNFR Baby!