Phillips Rodeo to fea­ture PBR’s Willing­ham, lo­cal fam­ily

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY -

ev­ery­one to come out and have a good time.”

The rodeo will be held on Fri­day and Satur­day with the ac­tion get­ting started at 8 p.m. both nights. Tick­ets at the gate are $12 for gen­eral ad­mis­sion and $8 for chil­dren ages 5-9. Chil­dren 4-un­der get in free and park­ing is also free.

The rodeo was founded in 1980 by Larry Phillips and con­tin­ued af­ter his death in 2001 as his son Danny, along with Brid­get, Danielle and Sage car­ried the torch for­ward. In 2001, the name was changed to the Larry Phillips Memorial Cham­pi­onship Rodeo.

The theme once again this year is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” to raise aware­ness for Breast Can­cer. All fans are asked to wear pink to the rodeo with the goal be­ing to “Pink-out” the arena. Brid­gett Phillips is a breast can­cer sur­vivor her­self so it is a cause near and dear to her­self and her fam­ily. Breast can­cer sur­vivors at­tend­ing the rodeo will be hon­ored and given VIP spe­cial treat­ment.

As a bonus this year, Sean Willing­ham will be among those com­pet­ing at the rodeo. Willing­ham, who lives in Sum­merville, is an ac­com­plished rider for the PBR (Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ers) cir­cuit with a large fol­low­ing. He has an­nounced that this will be his last year com­pet­ing on the PBR cir­cuit.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited to have (Sean Willing­ham) here this year,” said Brid­gett Phillips. “He’s com­pet­ing in Pro­fes­sional Cow­boy As­so­ci­a­tion rodeos when he’s not do­ing PBR, and he is a very tal­ented and suc­cess­ful bull rider. I was a lit­tle sur­prised when I was tak­ing names for en­trants and his was one of them. He’s done a lot in the sport has a lot of peo­ple that fol­low him.”

The two nights will also be spe­cial for the Thomas fam­ily, who re­sides in the area, and for them rodeo is a life­style that’s been passed down to the next gen­er­a­tion. Matt and his wife Julie, who is a Cal­houn El­e­men­tary teacher, have been com­pet­ing since they were kids, and they have passed that love of the sport on to their sons, Tate and Lo­gan. Tate re­cently grad­u­ated from Sono­rav­ille High and signed a college rodeo schol­ar­ship with Weather­ford College. Matt’s brother, Clint, who is deaf also com­petes in rodeo and will be com­pet­ing with the rest of the fam­ily this week­end.

“It’s re­ally to have a rodeo right here in this area and not have to travel so far like we do a lot, but this Phillips Rodeo is also a big part of this com­mu­nity,” said Julie Thomas. “Larry (Phillips) started this many years ago to pro­mote rodeo in this area, and for our fam­ily to be a part of it and con­tinue to pro­mote the rodeo and the sport is spe­cial. We re­ally en­joy be­ing a part of it.

“My hus­band and I have done this all our lives and went on to do it in college on schol­ar­ships, and our kids got in­ter­ested in it grow­ing up. It’s re­ally nice to do this as a fam­ily and be there to sup­port each other like we will be this week­end. We rely on each other a lot, and it has re­ally brought us closer as a fam­ily.”

Julie Thomas added that her brother-in-law Clint hasn’t al­lowed his dis­abil­ity to hin­der him in any way while com­pet­ing in rodeo.

“Clint was born deaf, and most peo­ple would look at that as a hand­i­cap, but it hasn’t stopped him from com­pet­ing and not only com­pet­ing, but suc­ceed­ing in those com­pe­ti­tions. He’s been do­ing it for years and hasn’t ever let be­ing deaf hold him back.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the rodeo, visit www. phillip­srodeo. com or fol­low them on Face­book or In­sta­gram at Phillips Cham­pi­onship Rodeo.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTOS

( Pro­fes­sional Bull Rider Sean Willing­ham will be one of the fea­tured at­trac­tions at the Phillips Cham­pi­onship Rodeo this week­end. ( Julie Thomas, of Cal­houn, and her fam­ily will be com­pet­ing in sev­eral events.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Tate Thomas, a re­cent Sono­rav­ille High grad­u­ate, will be com­pet­ing this week­end in Re­saca.

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