Pendleton Round-Up, I hardly knew ye. Of all the weeks to move here, I picked a doozy.

This is my first week covering sports at the East Oregonian. When sports editor Lance Ogden first asked me to cover the Round-Up, I thought he meant weed killer.

I don't like to throw around terms like "city slicker," but the only thing I learned to ride had training wheels, and before I knew what "Let 'er Buck" meant, I thought the Let 'er Buck Room was just a silly name for a post office.

Boy, was I wrong about that.

I grew up in Rainier on the banks of the Columbia in the shadow of the cooling tower of Trojan Nuclear plant.

My stepdad plies the river as a tugboat captain, in a town steeped in maritime tradition. Rainier isn't much for rodeo, and I'm not too proud to confess that the Round-Up was my first one.

Please, contain your surprise.

I know, it's hard to believe that a seemingly ace rodeo reporter wouldn't know a brahma from Brahms (or Bach, or Beethoven, for that matter).

It didn't take long for me to realize that I was a bit out of my element. On the first day of the Round-Up, I dressed in my rodeo best: jeans, western shirt, boots and a new felt hat. In the arena that afternoon, I went to deliver a message to a couple of EO photographers.

Belly laughs ensued, and I'll admit that the Indiana Jones comparisons were not unfair.

In my defense, I have no fear of snakes. Broncos, on the other hand ...

Yes, I'm new to this whole rodeo thing. But I'm learning.

I know the electrifying, hair-raising tension of eight seconds. I know the fearless cowboy attitude. I know not to jump in terror whenever I get within 10 feet of a horse.

Well, maybe I've just observed that fearless cowboy attitude.

Some Round-Up highlights:

• Watching 18-year-old cowboy Clayton Foltyn win the bareback title just four months out of high school - from the safety of the elevated press area.

• Seeing renegade bull Dirty White Boy bust through the fencing during the bull ride Friday and spook the arena crowd before being corralled by four pick-up men - from the safety of the elevated press area.

• Cheering all-around champ and Hermiston cowpoke Brad Goodrich during his victory lap on Saturday - from the safety of the elevated press area.

• Watching the harrowing, death-defying, side-splitting wild cow milk - from the ... you get the idea.

I might have a few things left to learn, like why an overall score is called an average and what exactly happens when a steer roper breaks the barrier.

And I might not be totally devastated to be getting my first crack at Pendleton prep sports next week, with a full slate of soccer, volleyball and football on the way.

But my first Round-Up was a kick in the pants, and me and my Indiana Jones hat will be ready for the next go-round.

Let 'er Buck, Pendleton.

Next year.

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Sports writer Tyler Roush can be reached at 966-0825, or by e-mail at troush@eastoregonian.com.

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