My first memory of the rodeo isn’t a good one.

Lesson one. Wear pants.

Three years ago, I was the world’s oldest intern and there I was at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in a pair of cargo shorts. Apparently there was a strict dress code for those going near the arenas.

According to the sleeveless shirt wearing security guard, everyone has to wear pants.

Luckily, I was living on the OBU campus just a few blocks away so I ran home, in protest, and changed into the proper attire for taking photos at a rodeo.

Long-time News-Star photographer Ed Blochowiak also temporarily boycotted the rodeo. Ed went to his car and sat in the air conditioning until I returned.

I really miss shooting the rodeo with Ed. I never worked with him too much in our short time together, but the majority of our work together came at the rodeo.

In that sweltering Oklahoma sun, Ed offered up tricks of the trade and how to keep track of who’s who.

Recently we found the story Ed read before every rodeo season. I am honored to continue that tradition this year.

Lesson two. Rodeo is a sport and these kids are athletes.

These bull riders are a rare breed. After spending one afternoon talking with the Shankland brothers, I realize these kids put in as much, if not more work than other high school athletes.

On any ride, these riders can get stepped on or get tossed off and break a collar bone. Yet they hop up like nothing happened.

I’m surprised more people don’t come out to the rodeo and support these kids. With the arenas running simultaneously, there is constant action. These kids and their families have been coming to Shawnee for years and pumping money into the local economy.

In the past, kids make the trip from as far away as Australia. It’s hot but there is shade in the grandstands. I encourage whoever reads this to pack a few waters, some sunscreen and get out to the Expo Center and cheer these kids on.