Rodeo runs in the blood of Chelsea family
CHELSEA, Okla. (AP)--When it comes to rodeo practice for 17-year-old Levi Rudd and his 13-year-old brother Logan, the whole family gets involved.
Almost every evening, the boys practice steer wrestling and tie-down roping, in the arena built in front of their home outside Chelsea.
Their parents and grandparents act as coaches and assistants.
Their mother, Lynore Rudd, guides the steers in the chute with one hand and videotapes the practices with the other.
Their father, Steven Rudd, hazes, or rides alongside the steer once it's out of the chute to make sure it runs along a straight path.
Lynn and Lori Oakley, the boys' maternal grandparents, bring lawn chairs to watch the practices and offer words of encouragement and advice after every run.
All four adults know what they are talking about because they have all participated in rodeos. Steven Rudd still competes alongside his sons.
"It's awesome. We can do it every day together,'' he said.
Levi and Logan, who both attend Claremore Public Schools, said they've been involved with rodeos as long as they can remember.
"They've grown up in the arena,'' Steven Rudd said.
Both Levi and Logan recently returned from last month's national competitions in New Mexico, the largest rodeo contests the brothers have been in.
Logan won first place in tie-down roping at the Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, where more than 800 students participated.
"I think I was more excited than he was,'' Levi said of his younger brother's win. "We predicted it.''
Levi, who didn't fare as well in the steer-wrestling category, competed with more than 1,300 other students at the 61st annual National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington, N.M.
"I was kind of disappointed,'' he said. "Out of the 80 steers, there were two or three bad ones. I drew the two bad ones.''
Steven Rudd said his sons are competitive and want to win every time, but when it comes to the steers and calves, it's luck of the draw.
"That's the name of the game of rodeo,'' he said. "You practice, practice, practice, but to mentally focus at the time, that's the difference.''
Steven and Lynore Rudd met while participating in rodeos in California when they were young.
They moved to Oklahoma 17 years ago, where rodeos are more prevalent and land is less expensive.
"We wanted them to be raised in this environment,'' Lynore Rudd said.
Even though they have been in and around rodeos since childhood, Levi and Logan said they love doing it and have no plans to quit.
"That's how I plan on going to college is rodeo,'' said Levi, who is a junior at Claremore High School and has already been approached by several colleges about joining their rodeo teams. "You can make a living off it, too.''
Steven Rudd said that unlike a lot of other sports, such as football, which his sons have played, competing in rodeos is more of an individual sport.
"You get a lot of life lessons from it,'' he said. "You take successes and failures on yourself.''