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Columbus rodeo provides opportunity to turn sport into cash - KOAM TV 7

Columbus rodeo provides opportunity to turn sport into cash

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Students do many different things to earn money for college and this weekend's American Cowboys Rodeo Association sanctioned event in Columbus, KS is an opportunity to turn sport into cash.

For many, rodeo is not just a sport.  It is a way of life.

"It's what I've been doing and what I will do until I die," said Dalton Lafalier, contestant.

18-year-old Lafalier travels the country year round to participate in rodeo events.

For him and other young contestants, performing well in rodeo can pay off with school.

"My college is almost half way paid for with just the rodeo scholarship, so it's helping me out a lot," Lafalier said.

While many aim for the cash prizes of $400 or more, some say that is not what rodeo is all about.

"Everybody would love to win the money and be able to take home some cash with them, but it's knowing that you've done the best you can to get where you've gotten," said Jaice Cross, contestant.

Cross has been break a way roping since she was a young child.

She says in rodeo, it's important to stay well-rounded.

"It's school first of all," Cross said.  "I have to keep my grades up and go to school, plus keep my horses in shape and keep myself healthy."

Contestants say practice is also key.

"It's like any other sport, basketball, football, anything, it's practice," Lafalier said. "That's what makes a difference."

"It's a sport that people around the country don't always recognize, but it's one of the roughest sports in America," said Jason Wells, President of the Columbus Saddle Club.

From cattle roping to steer wrestling, Wells says the rodeo provides a unique experience for the Columbus community.

"It's a big community boost," Wells said.  "Everyone in the whole community loves it.  They come from 3 states, all around, because this is what Columbus is about.

And packed stands help contestants in their performance.

"It's cool because you get to feed off the crowd's energy, so it's a lot of fun when we have a really energetic crowd behind us," Cross said.

She says, cash prize or not, it's a rewarding experience.

"It just gives you an all around sense of knowing that if you work hard enough, you're going to get where you want to go," Cross said.

This weekend's event is the largest rodeo held at the Columbus Saddle Club arena each year, drawing in nearly 900 people a night.

The saddle club plans to host the rodeo again next year and will offer several youth rodeos throughout the year.
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