story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Austin Woods
story by Lily Weinacht
Steer wrestlers have been called the roughies that grew too big for the chutes, but for Austin Woods, it was simply a matter of what made the adrenaline pump faster. The 24 year old from Casa Grande, Arizona, refers to himself as “a half-hearted team roper”, finding his niche in rodeo when he started throwing steers as a sophomore in high school. “I’ve tried all the events – saddle bronc, bull riding, you name it, but I never took to those like steer wrestling,” says Austin. “It’s just pure adrenaline, especially when you make a good run and it feels like everything goes right. It’s something that overwhelms your body, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done.”
A member of the GCPRA for five years, Austin clinched his first title with the association – and the first steer wrestling saddle of his career – in 2015. “I won that on Viva, Mark Boultinghouse’s horse. I sold my good horse two years ago and then Mark approached me about using his horse and keeping him legged up. He’s by far the best I’ve ridden, and it’s been a blessing to hop on him after selling my horse. Winning the title shows how much of a different Viva made for me, and I’m hoping to qualify again this year. I never leave without a good attitude,” Austin adds. “If you don’t, there’s no sense in going to a rodeo, because you have to have a winning mindset in order to win.” He also hauls Nemo, an Appaloosa who is both a hazing and head horse, sometimes ridden by Paul Brashears, Austin’s brother-in-law.
Family is an integral part of Austin’s rodeo career, starting with his parents, Rob and Cindy Woods. “They’re my number one supporters in everything I do, and have continued to push me through my high school and college career. Sam Willis originally got me into steer wrestling. He’s a smaller guy as well, and it was cool to see somebody older than me competing at a high level. He’s driven me to be better.” Austin and his sister, Kristin Brashears, cut their teeth on rodeo and came of age doing the same, while their mom continues to barrel race in the GCPRA. Austin competed on the Central Arizona Community College rodeo team, and also names the school’s rodeo coach, Joe Moody, as a major influence on his competition.
“It’s a passion for the sport that drives me more than anything,” Austin explains. “I don’t rodeo to make money – it’s more about connecting with family and friends. We enjoy competing against one another, and the camaraderie that goes with rodeo.” Austin also competes in the Northwest during the summer, entering rodeos throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
His work as an insurance claims adjuster requires further travelling, and this year he’s travelled much of Texas and even as far as North Carolina. “During the summer, with so many hail storms and tornadoes, places like Oklahoma and Texas get pretty overwhelmed with calls, so my company works like a subcontractor.” Since he can’t take his horses and rodeo while working, Austin calls his golf bag his travelling partner. “Any of my other time is spent with family, especially now that my nephew, Blaze, is getting to that age where he’s walking and doing things. It’s pretty cool to spend time with him. We all live within two miles of each other, so we’re constantly at each other’s places roping and riding.”
Along with defending his steer wrestling title in the GCPRA, Austin is training a solid, young horse for pro rodeoing. “One of my goals is to win Pendleton – that’s one of my favorite rodeos, and I competed there one year and came back to the short-round. Making the PRCA circuit finals in the Northwest is another big goal for me.”