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RANDLETT, Utah â As a child, Joe Frost did what most kids do: He let his imagination take him anywhere it wanted to go.
Even then, his imagination carried Frost along the rodeo trail. Itâs what he knew. Itâs how he lived.
âWe didnât play football or baseball,â he said. âWhen we played, we pretended we were at the NFR. We based everything off rodeoing, winning go-rounds. We didnât know anything else and didnât want to do anything else.â
Childhood is about wonder and fascination. Itâs about playing in the dirt and dreaming big dreams.
Joe Frost is living his dreams in rodeo. The 2014 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association bull riding champion will now carry his amazing season over to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sportâs marquee event that takes place Dec. 4-13 in Las Vegas.
âItâs something thatâs been a goal and a plan for as long as I can remember,â said Frost, 22, of Randlett. âItâs everybodyâs dream to ride at the national finals and to win a world title. You canât win a world title without making it to the national finals.
âWhen youâre in youth rodeos and high school rodeos and college rodeos, youâre riding with that goal in mind. The films that everybody watches are from the NFR. That is the ultimate goal and the ultimate place to ride at.â
Frost earned his way to the gameâs grand championship by winning $69,558 through the rigors of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season. He is 11th in the world standings heading into Las Vegas, where he will battle for his share of the $6.375 million purse. Go-round winners will collect $19,000 each round for 10 nights.
But thereâs so much more to Frost, who also competes in tie-down roping and steer wrestling when his schedule allows. In fact, the Utah cowboy earned the 2014 Linderman Award for excelling in both roughstock and timed events.
âI enter about 12 to 15 rodeos roping calves and steer wrestling and go to about 80 to 90 in bull riding,â he said. âIâm not consistently roping calves and steer wrestling, and itâs making it hard to be as competitive as I should be.
âIn steer wrestling and calf roping, there are so many variables with your horse, drawing the animals you can win on and everything that goes with it. You can virtually not get on a practice bull all year long and still be sharp in bull riding just by competing.â
In addition to competing in ProRodeo, Frost is in the middle of his senior season at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in the small community of Goodwell, Okla. In 2013, he was one of the key members of the Panhandle State team that won the menâs college title. This past June, he rode all four bulls at the College National Finals Rodeo to claim the bull riding title.
He is the only contestant in this yearâs NFR field of 119 contestants who has a chance to win the college title and the world title in the same year. The last time that was done was in 2007, when Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus Taos Muncy did so in saddle bronc riding, becoming just the third cowboy in PRCA history to have won both crowns in the same calendar year.
âWhen I first came to look at school, they have an office, and itâs Taos Muncyâs,â said Frost, who has sponsorship arrangements with Rodeo Mart and Wrangler. â(Coach) Craig Latham told me, âIf you win the college title and the world title in the same year, weâll build you an office.â â
That certainly was appealing to a young man looking toward his future, but there were several other reasons why he chose to move from the Utah mountains to the Plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle. He was offered an opportunity to grow as a cowboy and as a young man; both are vital for the Frost family: dad, Shane; mom, Lisa; brothers Josh, 19, and Jate, 13; and sister, Jacelyn, 10.
âCollege rodeo as allowed me to get an education,â he said. âCraig and Robert (Etbauer) have been really good with me to go to ProRodeos. Itâs a huge priority for me to win the region team title. As much as Iâd love to win the college bull riding title again, it would be more important for me to help win the team title again.â
While the team approach is amazing for college, Frost has individual goals for his inaugural visit to the NFR. He knows itâs going to take a lot of talent and a little luck for it all to come together, but thatâs the way the bull riding bull bounces.
âMy goal is to win the average and leave as the world champion,â Frost said. âMy main goal is to ride 10 bulls one at a time. If I can keep my focus on my bull riding, then I need to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented. Iâm going to keep it simple and keep it about riding bulls, then everything else will take care of itself.â
Thatâs a brilliant outlook for such a young cowboy, but he was raised that way. Shane Frost rode bulls, then raised a family on their Utah ranch. He and Lisaâs four children have been involved in riding horses and ranching all their lives. Shane built an arena just feet from the front door of the house, and the kids have had every opportunity to ride, rope and wrestle.
âOur family life was based off ranching, and every night we were out there practicing,â Joe Frost said. âMy family is really close. Itâs important when we can be together.
âAs far as my bull riding career, Iâve never been to a bull riding school. Being around my dad, it doesnât matter what youâre doing, he can relate it back to bull riding and rodeo. You need to have a good attitude.â
That has gone a long ways in making Joe Frost who he is. Thatâs why heâs going to the NFR in 2014. Thatâs why heâs 22 years old and already a champion.
Terry McGowan, director of engineering for the ALA, says, "Older eyes experience two important changes."
First, the amount of light required to sustain visual performance increases with age. Research shows that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old.
Second, with time, human eyes become more sensitive to glare. This can seem like a bit of a Catch-22, as more light can often result in increased glare. That's what makes the quality of light more important as you grow older.
With many baby boomers reaching their mid-60s, homeowners should consider user age as a factor in their home lighting design. It is easy to enhance the visual performance and enjoyment for baby boomers and older folks with a few simple lighting adjustments:
* Turn on one or two table lamps while watching TV to reduce the contrast between the bright screen and the surrounding darkness.
* Use a torchiere for uplighting as well as downward illumination for versatility. Look for a fixture with a separate task light attached or one with a glass bowl at the top to shine some light downward.
* Have a task light that can be directed or pivoted.
In addition to providing sufficient light, proper lighting design is essential to human health.
"As people get older, it isn't just the amount of light, it is also the color of the light and when it is applied, that is key to regulating things such as circadian rhythm and REM sleep cycles," says McGowan.
Growing research indicates that light can impact human health in numerous ways, including susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease. The question is: What exactly can aging people do to help their eyes and health?
The answer, according to McGowan, is to enjoy bright days and dark nights. "If you're older and don't sleep very well, expose yourself to bright light, such as daylight, early in the morning ... a walk outside will do it ... and sleep in a dark room at night. That will do everything required to regulate your circadian rhythm," says McGowan.
EDMOND, Okla. â Carlee Pierce and her family needed a breather from the rigors of the rodeo trail.
The Oklahoma cowgirl took it.
That was in June 2013, when Pierce was the third-ranked cowgirl in the Womenâs Professional Rodeo Associationâs barrel racing standings. Instead of chasing the world championship at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, she packed up her trailer and headed home.
âI took a break last year when I was on my way to a third consecutive NFR,â said Pierce, who was born in Alberta and raised in northwest Oklahoma. âI always said when my family was worn out with it, Iâd stay home. After several months at home, everybody decided staying home and being ânormalâ wasnât exactly fun.
âThis year I spent more time on the road with and without them with no expectations of making the NFR, so it turned into a successful year.â
Yes, it was. Pierce earned $90,431 through the regular season and heads to ProRodeoâs premier event next week No. 13 in the world standings â only the top 15 contestants in each event earn the right to compete at the NFR, set for Dec. 4-13 in Las Vegas. Now she will take a shot at the biggest play in the game with a purse of $6.375 million; go-round winners will earn $19,000 per night for the 10-round affair.
But it meant more time away from her family: husband, Steve; son, Kale; and daughters, Makala and Jacy.
âThe rodeo trail hasnât changed,â Pierce said. âItâs still a lot of hours and a lot of driving. It doesnât bother me as much when my family goes, but when they were at home, it seemed like I was gone for years.â
Still, she took advantage. She had key wins through the season and collected a lot of checks, but her biggest two victories came in Red Bluff, Calif., in April and Hermiston, Ore., in August. She won both rounds and the two-run average title at both, pocketing $5,442 in California and $8,247 in Oregon.
That money went a long ways to helping her reach the goal of returning to the NFR, where she has excelled. In her first appearance in 2011, Pierce raced to two round wins while placing in three others to win $50,769. A year later, she earned $79,802 and finished the 2012 campaign as the reserve world champion with $204,322.
âSometimes I ask myself the question, âWhy do I rodeo?â â said Pierce, who earlier this year moved her family from Stephenville, Texas, to Edmond, though the Pierces will keep their Texas ranch. âI guess it is a passion I have. I canât go one day without thinking about it, and I feel like I am so far from accomplishing all my goals in rodeo.â
She will have another chance in the City of Lights, where she plans to ride a couple of young horses inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
âI am running both of my girls in Vegas,â she said. âTiny is 5, and Lolo is 6. Both are pretty green in the rodeo world, but I have faith in them, and I know this is a good experience in preparation for the 2015 season. I am really excited about how talented they are.â
She will need all the talent the two sorrel mares can muster. The NFR field is loaded with NFR regulars like Kaley Bass, Lisa Lockhart and Christy Loflin, as well as world champions Mary Walker and Sherry Cervi, the latter of who owns four gold buckles.
âThe NFR is always the best of the best,â Pierce said. âI know there are some amazing horses in that mix. Itâs definitely going to be a great horserace.â
Thatâs the way it should be when the world title is on the line. Pierce is about $65,000 behind Bass, the world standings leader from Kissimmee, Fla., but she can make up that ground quickly in Las Vegas. With the payouts so high, the Oklahoma cowgirl can catch the leaders in just four rounds.
It will take a lot of talent and a little bit of luck, but Carlee Pierce is ready for it all.