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SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo - January 2-10

By Ted Harbin
Posted Friday, January 2, 2009

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ODESSA, Texas - This west Texas community has a lot to boast about. The Permian Basin is the home of some of the best-known high school football. It’s where oil rigs and energy wells dot the landscape.

But over the next 10 days, it’s home of the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo, where the biggest names in ProRodeo play the game. World champions will show off their gold buckles in the first event of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association seasons.

Biggest names in rodeo converging on Permian Basin

Hundreds of contestants have entered the rodeo, which will have performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 2-3 and 7-10 at the Ector County Coliseum.

Scheduled to compete are legends of the game like Joe Beaver, Jake Barnes, Allen Bach, Clay O’Brien Cooper, Mike Johnson, Billy Etbauer, Fred Whitfield and Cody Ohl. Also in the mix are some of the up-and-coming superstars of the game, like Linderman Award winner Trell Etbauer, Billy’s nephew and the son of two-time saddle bronc riding world champion Robert Etbauer.

The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo is also home of the Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Bullfight World Championships presented by All-American Dodge of Midland/Odessa, where the top five teams through the 2008 season earned the right to compete. The bullfighters will be judged on how well they do their jobs of protecting cowboys in bull riding in the rodeo, so there will be two competitions in one during this fantastic, fast-paced action.

The PBF protection-bullfight competition is based on developing a contest among some of the greatest athletes in ProRodeo - the guys that for years have been hired hands to protect fallen bull riders. This provides a competitive edge to these talented athletes.

And it’s just one aspect of an exciting 10-day run at the Odessa arena.

When you look over the contestant list and see three-time world champion bareback rider Will Lowe fellow Texan Chris Harris on a night that also features 2005 world champion saddle bronc rider Jeff Willert and great bull riders like Texans Clayton Foltyn and Clayton Williams.

Every night is packed full of action and gold-buckle wearing cowboys, who willingly display their world-championship trophies for all to see.

The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo is also home to some of the greatest pieces of the ProRodeo puzzle, like 11-time announcer of the year, Randy Corley. Troy Lerwill and “Rockin’” Robbie Hodges.

Corley provides a smooth voice in the booth

Randy Corley has been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s top announcer 11 times in his storied career.

That doesn’t even scratch the surface when talking about the man who has called events from coast to coast, including the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Corley joined his ProRodeo Hall of Fame father-in-law, Hadley Barrett, and the two-time announcer of the year, Boyd Polhamus, on the sidelines inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas less than a month ago to spit out the facts, figures and storylines during ProRodeo’s grand finale. It marked the eighth time over three decades that Corley has called the action at the NFR.

A future hall-of-famer himself, Corley brings his magical baritone voice to call the action in Odessa, just as he’s done at the National Circuit Finals Rodeo, several ProRodeo Tour playoff events and some of the most prestigious events in ProRodeo.

Corley’s presence inside the Ector County Coliseum is a soothing as the smooth voice that greets patrons looking for the details on their favorite athletes. His calm demeanor and comfortable tone brings entertaining snippets to everyone in the stands, from the veterans who have witnessed hundreds of rodeo performances to those new to the arena.

When he comes to Odessa, he will bring with him an unmatched pedigree and a talent that is unstoppable. That’s Randy Corley.

Lerwill brings many hats to Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo


The oversized, yellow, foam cowboy hat might be the first thing you see when he walks into the Ector County Coliseum for the SandHill Stock Show and Rodeo.

It’sTroy Lerwill: funnyman, daredevil, bullfighter and all cowboy. He's been selected as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's comedy act of the year, the Coors Man in the Can and the barrelman for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The kudos are great and are a reflection of the respect those with close ties to the sport of rodeo have for the Payson, Utah, man, who makes his living traveling the country, showing off his athletic talents and making people laugh. If you haven't seen Lerwill in action, you've missed the mark; and a lot of giggle time.

But there's so much more to Troy Lerwill. He began his career in rodeo as a bullfighter in 1994 and turned pro in 1997. Years spent on the motocross circles "and hills and leaps and all that goes with dirt-bike racing led him to create his "Wild Child" persona, which not only brings crowds to their feet but also sits them on their pockets with laughter.

"I told myself that somehow it had to be possible to jump a Dodge pickup truck and a Bloomer trailer with my dirt bike," Lerwill wrote on his Web site. "In 1998, "the Wild Child" was born, and since then, I am performing one of the most spectacular acts in professional rodeo."

Although his motocross talents are well described, there's a passion for rodeo that’s the cornerstone for every performance Lerwill makes. Born and raised in Payson, his parents gave him his first horse when he was 4 years old. His father, Lynn, is a team roper; mother, Penny, is a former rodeo queen. A life of extreme sports was sure to follow.

"By the age of 10, I started riding motorcycles. Within two years, I entered my first race," he said. "Six years later, I was No. 1 in the state of Utah in professional motor cross. In 1992, I stared the business of Downhill Cyclery, a mountain-bike retail and service shop in Payson."

Now he carries all of his passions - including those for his author wife, Rebecca - everywhere he goes, including the next couple of weeks in the Permian Basin.

“Rockin’”Hodges finds plenty of humor in the arena

“Rockin’” Robbie Hodges knows how to work a crowd.

This year during the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo, he will provide humor and antics to the tens of thousands who show up for the annual spectacular in Odessa.

Hodge’s humor? It’s down-home, Southern, slap-your-leg funny, from his outrageous acts to his comical banter during each of the performances of the rodeo. He combines a quick wit with off-the-cuff commentary that will keep folks in stitches throughout each show.

He comes by his comical nature quite, well, naturally. Southern by grace, he calls Cave Spring, Ga., home, but he travels extensively entertaining hordes of people all across the country.

Over a distinguished career, he has played a variety of stages, whether it’s in the mud in Tonganoxie, Kan., or inside the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. He’s renowned for his ability to entertain the most savvy of rodeo fans and those who are just getting beginning their road to rodeo’s passionate fan base.

“I rode bareback horses for 16 years, and I loved it,” Hodges said. “I was always the jokester, and when I retired from that, someone said that I should be a clown. I was going to do about five rodeos that first year, but then I did 30, and I’ve been going ever since.”

Like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going. Hodges is booked through 2009, meaning he’ll be entertaining rodeo audiences every weekend for three more months.

“I absolutely love this,” he said.

Besides the PRCA rodeo and the PBF Finals there is….

Super Tuesday offers a shot at roping’s best

Over the past two decades, Nancy McCain has seen a lot of things involving the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo. That happens when you’re so heavily involved.

But for the past 17 years, she’s overseen one critical venture during the 10 days of action inside the Ector County Coliseum – an event simply known as the Super Tuesday Roping. So with all that is involved in one of the greatest events in the Permian Basin, why is McCain so tickled about Tuesday’s events?

“Quite simply, we get the very best to the roping,” McCain said. “These are the very best ropers in the business, and it’s a great event to watch.”

The festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, with the open team roping. The open class in team roping is like the scratch golfers; they’re the best of the best. The morning roping will feature world champions and those who have been oh-so-close to grabbing gold buckles. That session is free to attend.

The evening performance will feature the short go-round with the top contestants from that day’s competition. Oh, and then there are the pro-am team roping, the Annual Junior Calf Roping Match, the Shawn McMullen Memorial Calf Roping, the Match Tie-Down Roping and the Match Team-Roping.

With names like Trevor Brazile, Patrick Smith, Stran Smith, and the biggest and best ropers in the game, the day looks to be chalk full of entertainment.

“In the past, we’ve had 120 open ropers, then we’ll probably have 30 to 40 for the pro-am,” McCain said. “The pro-am is so neat, because we’ve got these amateurs who will draw for the pros, then they will rope with them. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Now, maybe, everyone will understand why McCain is so passionate about the Super Tuesday Roping.

All of this is why thousands of fans make their way to Odessa every January for the first rodeo of the year. It’s why they’ll return this year. Because here, they Grab Life.

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