The Paw Print
Last week’s issue of the Paw Print featured the new ASU rodeo team. There is, in fact, a history of rodeo at the University. In the 1960’s, there was also an established rodeo team at Adams State.
For a bit of background, the NIRA (National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association) was founded in Texas in 1948. The NIRA then expanded across the U.S. and into Canada. The schools responsible for the establishment of the NIRA were Sul Ross University and Texas A&M.
The Adams State Team belonged to the Mountain States section of the NIRA which included schools from Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. The Mountain States Section was considered one of the fastest growing sections in the nation and included 20 colleges and junior colleges.
From newspaper clippings on file at the Nielsen Library, it is clear that Adams States’ Rodeo Club hosted an annual rodeo from 1962-1968. This event was dubbed the ‘Top O’ the Nation Rodeo” and a total of 19 colleges came and competed in 1965. The best overall cowboy and cowgirl or “all-around” winners were presented with trophy saddles. The first rodeo was held in 1962 and was termed a “roaring success” by Jay Yount, the president of the rodeo club. The competition was held at the site of Colorado’s oldest Pro Rodeo, the San Luis Valley Ski Hi Stampede, in Monte Vista. An estimated crowd of around 2,000 spectators came to Monte Vista and witnessed the inaugural event.
There were, and still are, awards for the best team of the rodeo. This award goes to the school whose team members have the best combined overall performance. In 1967, the winners were the team members of Casper Junior College. The rodeos that Adams State hosted were an overall successful venture and were well received by the community. There were also community ties as is illustrated by the case of the Alspaugh/Honeycutt Families.
For the 1963 rodeo, the provider of the stock for the events, better known as the stock contractor, was Walt Alspaugh, who was the father of Virginia Honeycutt. Honeycutt was married to Roy Honeycutt of Alamosa’s own famous Honeycutt Rodeo Inc. This helped mark the beginning of the legacy of a family business, which continues to this day for the Honeycutt family.
Another aspect of rodeo is that individual committees chose ambassadors for their organization. This is usually done by holding a royalty contest/pageant. A queen or princess or both, along with attendants, are chosen. The “Top O’ the Nation” Rodeo was no different. In 1967, Sue Martin was crowned queen for Adams State and represented “Top O’ the Nation Rodeo” in Sacramento, Calif., competing for the title of queen of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
While a new team is starting it’s story, the sport of rodeo is nothing new to Adams State, Alamosa, and the San Luis Valley. The establishment of rodeo in Alamosa is still seen clearly today through the Honeycutt family and the Alamosa Roundup, but it all began in part because of the college rodeo hosted right here in the San Luis Valley. This is a rodeo history that this community can be proud of.
Correction: Credit for last week’s rodeo team photo goes to Kassie Howard.