When the West was settled, a brave group of men known as the cowboys would spend hours practicing their skills with ropes and lassos to wrangle the cattle, lost on the trail.
A part of their job and way of life, it was a necessary skill for survival.
After a presentation at Parkview Elementary on Friday afternoon, a new generation of cowboys and cowgirls may be devoting more of their time in developing a skill that is also essential for success in life: reading.
Chris Pyle, special services director for the Sedalia School District 200, and Smith-Cotton senior Blake Potts put on a demonstration of roping skills for students at Parkview to celebrate “Hit the Reading Trail and Read in Day.”
“Reading and learning how to understand what you have read are some of the most important life skills for every student to master,” Pyle said. “It is the foundation for virtually everything else they will need to succeed throughout their lives.
“I hope with what Blake and I did today the students may become interested and more engaged in their reading,” Pyle added. “Hopefully, we may have sparked an interest in them to read that may not have been there before.”
Pyle was once a professional bull rider who developed an interest in the sport when he was in sixth grade. He continues to work in the sport as a nationally recognized rodeo announcer.
Potts shares a similar path and passion about the sport. An 18-year-old senior at Smith-Cotton, Potts said he has only been studying the sport for three years.
“I really only started my trick roping last year,” Potts added. “I’ve been with Amped Up Bull Riding out of Warrensburg for three years now and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here today.
“I think if they are going to come to support me at my shows, I want to take the time and opportunity to support them,” Potts said. “If they give me their time I need to do the same for them.”
While Potts performs more trick roping skills and aspires to be a rodeo clown in the future, Pyle said his presentation focused on the day-to-day work of a rancher.
“I think I gave them more of a history lesson about what life was like in the olden days and how ranchers worked to get the stray cattle back into the fold,” Pyle said. “Blake is just incredible with the tricks he can perform.
“I’ll probably be lucky to lasso one of the roping dummies I brought with me today,” he added with a laugh.
Pyle was not only able to rope the steer and calf forms he brought to the school but he and Potts were also able to capture the attention of the students throughout their afternoon presentations.
“I felt like I was a real cowgirl,” Natalia Soterio said after roping a calf form on her first try. “We had a lot of fun today because we got to read a lot of books and we had pretzels and drinks and free books too.”
Students were also given the opportunity to view horses Parkview physical education teacher Tommy Kindle brought to the school.
Kindle, his brother, Jason Kindle, who is a physical therapist for the Sedalia School District 200, and Parkview speech pathologist Breanna Harding gave the students the opportunity to ask questions and pet the horses.
“Coach Kindle said he would be more than happy to bring in some of his horses because he knew we were planning a western them for our reading week,” Jamie Sparks, instructional coach for Parkview, said. “We thought it would be a wonderful experience and a good memory to do a day like this,”
“Hopefully, the students had the chance to learn a little bit about the history of cowboys and the rodeo,” Pyle said. “I hope more than that they realized the opportunities and the joy that is available to them through their reading.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484