Karla and Kevin Hemphill looked at their youngest child, wondering what 3-year-old Cade had in mind for Halloween.
They asked the rodeo-loving youngster if he wanted to be a cowboy, much to Cade’s dismay.
“Why?” he asked. “I’m already a cowboy.”
The Hemphills and their three children – including daughter Josie and another son, A.J. – live in Strasburg, Colo., a mere 35 miles east of the National Western Stock Show near downtown Denver. The stock show is one of the first big rodeo events of the new year, and it’s where Cade wants to be.
Cowboy has defined Cade for a good portion of his young life. Just before his second birthday, the Hemphills attended the Jayhawker Roundup Rodeo in Hill City, Kan., the youngster’s first experience involving bucking broncs, athletic horses, the speed of barrel racing and the drama of bull riding.
“He sat through the whole rodeo and was mesmerized,” Karla said. “He never moved.”
Take a moment to consider that. Still in diapers with an attention span of a needle, and rodeo had the boy mesmerized. That’s the kind of fan rodeo needs.
“From that day on, he was hooked,” Karla said. “I think he loves boots, hats, his herd of stick horses and stick bull and, of course, his rope.”
Cade’s favorite events are steer wrestling and bull riding, and he obviously keeps up with it pretty well – his favorite bull is the Professional Bull Riders stalwart Chicken On A Chain. Oh, and this is his favorite time of the year, when the rodeo comes to Denver.
“The day after Christmas he said, ‘Santa came, Christmas is over; now I can go to the stock show,’ ” Karla said.
That’s the kind of fan every sport needs. Now those of us in rodeo need do what we can to enhance Cade’s rodeo experience so he’s a fan for life.