In the world of sports, there are plenty of reasons to want to play in front of a home crowd. There’s the chance to showcase your talents in front of friends and family, the comfort of having the cheers in your favor and the familiarity of the venue, just to name a few.
However, with home competition comes an added level of pressure, and rodeos are no exception to that rule.
Four Stephens County natives got the chance to compete in or near their hometowns at the PRCA Rodeo on Friday and Saturday at the Stephens County Fair & Expo. Some get the opportunity to ride in the area more often than others, but all agree that it’s a fun experience.
“(Doing this in Stephens County) is real neat,” said Kurt Goulding, a steer wrestler and tie down roper from Comanche. “I’ve got a lot of friends around here and stuff. I’ve been doing this for about 30 years. It used to be a career, but now it’s kind of a hobby.”
Of the four local riders who competed, Duncan native Shane Frey was the only one to walk away with any prize money. He placed fifth in the tie down roping competition, finishing in 9.2 seconds for a payout of $324.90.
While Frey was the only local competitor to place in his event, the other said they still enjoyed the chance to do what they do in front of people who are close to them.
“I don’t get to do this close to home very often,” said Chad Lehew, a team roper from Marlow. “We’d always like to do a little bit better, but we did what we could with what we drew. My wife, my little girl, a bunch of people I know, there’s just a bunch of friends and family here. This is what I do for a living right here.”
Lehew’s teammate, Duncan native Jay Morgan, said his chances to ride at home come a little more often than those of the other competitors. He admitted that there is always an increased desire to do well when he knows people in the audience.
“This is what I do,” Morgan said. “I put on team roping and jackpots. We hit the open rodeos around here a lot. Like 20 a year at the most. I’ve been roping since high school or junior high and about 15 years professionally. It’s a little harder here. You want to do better here in front of everybody and there’s just a little more pressure.”