GIV­ING THANKS

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Features -

Pro­fes­sional team rop­ers Charly Craw­ford and Trey John­son in­vite mil­i­tary vet­er­ans to a free clinic that of­fers so much more than rop­ing.

Re­tired Staff Sergeant Michael Hall sat at a gas sta­tion out­side of Ok­la­homa City in the fall of 2015, with his one horse in tow, in route to Charly Craw­ford and Trey John­son’s free Mil­i­tary Team Rop­ing School in Stephenville, Texas. He had just filled up his truck, and as he sat star­ing at his steer­ing wheel that early morn­ing, he fought off a strong in­cli­na­tion to turn around and head back home to In­de­pen­dence, Kansas.

Hall was a 19D Cal­vary scout in the Army—he was on the front lines as a Bradley com­man­der, driv­ing a tank in South Bagh­dad. He has a Pur­ple Heart and an Army Com­men­da­tion Medal with Valor, and he’d sur­vived in some of the world’s harsh­est con­di­tions.

“But this rop­ing thing re­ally got un­der my skin,” Hall ad­mit­ted, who wasn’t ac­cus­tomed to fail­ure. So Hall, a fa­ther of five with kids just start­ing to ju­nior rodeo, got back on I-35 and headed south to Stephenville, fight­ing off the demons of doubt that plagued his con­fi­dence.

“I had been to the prac­tice pen some, and I’d tracked a lot of cat­tle, and re­ally started learn­ing po­si­tion. I’d track steers and rope the dummy, but I had never turned one be­fore I went to Charly’s.”

Now, two years and two Charly Craw­ford and Trey John­son Mil­i­tary Team Rop­ing Schools later, Hall just won the first round of the team rop­ing at the Pro­fes­sional Armed Forces Rodeo As­so­ci­a­tion Fi­nals, and he’s built life­long bonds with Craw­ford, John­son, and his fel­low mil­i­tary team rop­ers.

their re­sources to make more of a dif­fer­ence in the lives of mil­i­tary men and women. Charly’s dad served, and be­ing grate­ful to the men and women who risk their lives for our coun­try had al­ways been close to his heart.

“We’ve had guys like that around the house. Those guys are will­ing to die for us. I’m pas­sion­ate enough about guys who are badass enough.”

Tap­ping into his passions for ser­vice and for team rop­ing, Craw­ford hosted his first school with then-part­ner and two-time WNFR heeler Shay Car­roll in 2013, usu­ally in Craw­ford’s home arena in Stephenville. (Rain caused Craw­ford to can­cel the school in 2016, and in 2017 Lon­es­tar Arena do­nated their arena to Craw­ford for use when rain was in the fore­cast again.) John­son, a full­time trav­el­ing min­is­ter and for­mer PRCA Re­sis­tol Rookie of the Year, joined with Craw­ford in 2014.

by Chelsea Shaf­fer with G.R. Schi­avino

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