Kindergartners at Graland County Day School got a different kind of education when ProRodeo athletes Chad Van Campen, Jule Hazen and Garrett Nokes visited with them on Jan. 14.
The timed-event cowboys were in town to compete at the National Western Stock Show rodeo, and they visited the school to talk about their sport. Nokes and Hazen have qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling, and Van Campen has been one of the elite bulldoggers in the game for a number of years.
The students had already prepared some questions, which the cowboys did their best to answer. It’s all great public relations for the sport, something rodeo needs. Nokes is well aware of that, so that’s why he talked his cohorts into going with him to educate the youngsters.
I roped Jule and Chad into it because we were all staying at my cousin’s house in Denver,” said Nokes of McCook, Neb. “I also had my son, Parker, with me, so he went, too.
“Actually, Parker stole the show. He’s my 2-year-old, and he was all dressed up cowboy and having a ball. He’s my cowboy; he eats it and sleeps it and carries ropes everywhere.”
And when the 5- and 6-year-old students posed their questions, their younger counterpart was more than willing to answer. Decked out in his cowboy hat and belt, young Parker also carried his piggin’ string like a well-trained calf roper.
“There was no stage fright there,” Nokes said. “He had a ball. The kids just enjoyed it. When he was showing all the kids the piggin’ string, he put it around his head and one arm like all the old men do.”
The cowboys answered all sorts of questions, from the names of their horses to how fast they can run to the animals’ colors. It wasn’t the State of the Union Address, but it was a great way to get more young fans involved in rodeo.
“The PRCA asked me if I could do it, and, of course, I said yes,” Nokes said. “I think the more of those kinds of deals contestants do during rodeos the better. If you have a chance to bring 100 more people to a rodeo, why wouldn’t you do it?”