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Meet the Member Dustin “Dirt” Terrell
story by Gabrielle Barnes
Competing as young as eight years old, long-time rodeo contestant Dustin Terrell doesn’t recall a time in his life without the sport of rodeo. “My dad would say I’ve been going to rodeos since I was born. He told me we went to 56 rodeos the year I was born, so I guess it’s in my blood.”
Anyone who knows Dustin calls him by his nickname, Dirt. “One of my dad’s rodeo buddies started calling me Dirt when I was about 30 inches long, and it literally stuck.”
Dirt’s father traded for a half pony horse called Snoopy when Dirt was eight years old. He rode Snoopy for 14 years, and considers him the horse that only comes by once in a lifetime. Snoopy took Dirt to the Little Britches Finals, and in 1987 won the Nebraska High School Rodeo Finals in the team roping. He hauled Snoopy to the National High School Rodeo Finals and some college rodeos. “We did everything on him…he was one of those one-of-a-kind horses.”
Dirt, 46, now lives in LaSalle, Colorado and for the last six years has competed as a member of the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association in calf roping, team roping and ribbon roping with his wife, Sherry. The husband and wife team won the ribbon roping average twice at the finals and in 2014 won the world championship, which Dirt considers one of his most memorable rodeo experiences. Dirt also won the All-Around Cowboy title that year. One of the reasons Dirt and Sherry enjoy being members of the NSPRA is because the schedule works well for them. Many weekends are occupied by their kids’ events, so they do not get a lot of time to compete themselves. Fortunately, only five rodeos are required in order to qualify for the Senior National Finals Rodeo.
The most rewarding part of rodeo for Dirt is the relationships built over his 46 years in the sport. “You can go all over the country and you know somebody. They’ll invite you to their house…cook you dinner. It’s the rodeo family. Not many sports are like this one.”
For the last 24 years, when he is not on the rodeo trail, Dirt works at Sharp Bros. Seed in Greeley, Colorado and is a partner in the business. He is also president of the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association. “Things change as you get older; it’s not really about me anymore, it’s about the kids. I love seeing kids progress and get better.”
Rodeo is an expensive sport, yet Dirt wouldn’t trade it for the world. “To see my kids go places and do things, those are times that we’ll never get back. We leave home as a family, we rodeo and compete, but then we come home as a family. That is pretty rewarding.” Dirt’s greatest accomplishment of all is getting to watch his kids compete. His oldest daughter, Ashley, is on the rodeo team at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. High school freshman, Amanda, participates in Colorado State High School Rodeo. Both girls compete in barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying.
“God has blessed us abundantly, and we want to share that with others. Being president of [Colorado State] High School Rodeo, I feel like there are lots of kids that need a lift up and some encouragement. They need somebody or something to believe in. I think God put us on this earth to make a difference, and be give-backers instead of takers. I just think that’s my family.” He didn’t have to look very far to find his hero, as his father has always been it. “He instilled a lot of the values that I have today. We want to help people, and make a difference in their lives.” A quote that Dirt says he has always gone by is, “Scars heal, glory fades, but memories last forever.” Dirt uses that quote everywhere; it’s on the back of his horse trailer and even on his email signature because it’s about memories. “That’s all we have when something happens and we lose somebody or whatever, it’s memories that are left, so hopefully you’ve made good ones.”
Dirt hopes to continue his career at Sharp Bros. Seed, and eventually spend some of the wintertime in Arizona where he and his wife would like to attend more NSPRA rodeos after taking some time off this year. “My wife once told me that if I thought she was going to live in a living quarters trailer in the winter in Arizona I was nuts, but she actually thinks that’s a pretty good idea now.”
Dirt always encourages people to believe in themselves. “My dad always told me, you can do anything you want, you just have to make the decision. Any kid today can be a world champ if they want it bad enough. It won’t be easy, but they can do it.”