Texas Bronc Rider’s Association 2018 Finals Set for Last Weekend in September
story by Lori O’Harver GLEN ROSE, Texas – “We’re thrilled to have the bronc riders back in town, but honestly? It’s the TBRA lady ranch […]
story by Lori O’Harver
On the surface, bronc riding nation appears to be a man’s world, but get past the male dominated pool of contestants and women play a huge role. From riders to producers, flank men, pick up men, administrative people and promoters, women are well represented.
Michelle McElroy is one of the women you won’t find in the spotlight very often, but without the native Floridian who barely understood what rodeo was before she became Texas Bronc Rider’s Association President Daryl McElroy’s beautiful bride nine years ago, the two-year-old association might never have gotten off the ground.
“I met Daryl at a Starbuck’s in Tampa late one evening,” Michelle said. “We settled in for a long chat over the $5 coffee we’d gone there looking for. What we found was great coffee and true love. Best decision to indulge in late night caffeine either of us ever made.”
The couple married and work moved back to Daryl’s home state of Texas. He drew a big circle on the map and asked Michelle to choose where she wanted to settle. When the Dallas-Fort Worth area got the nod, she still had no idea that all things bronc riding was about to become her passion and life’s work.
“It was Valentine’s Day, 2015, when I didn’t get the usual call after he’d ridden in Arizona,” Michelle said. “When the phone did ring, his first choked words were ‘I’m sorry.’ He’d broken his back and surgeons in the small hospital he’d been transported to wanted to fly him to Phoenix because it was bad. He flew home to me instead. It wasn’t until I’d met him at the airport gate that I realized just how seriously he’d been injured.”
The reconstructive surgeries went well, but McElroy was told he’d never nod for another bucking horse. As his recovery wore on, Michelle realized it was no longer pain or confinement that deeply bothered him. It was knowing his rodeo days were done.
“Physical pain is one thing and that’s bad enough. The pain he felt from losing his world, his passion? That was excruciating,” Michelle said. “I promised him right there that we’d find a way to stay involved more strongly than ever before. It wasn’t long before he told me he knew what he wanted to do.”
McElroy was fortunate to have a career outside of rodeo to fall back on to support himself and his wife. He had known many cowboys who didn’t have that safety net. He told Michelle he wanted to start a program that would serve the bucking horse community, keep the pipeline of young riders strong and growing; help the intermediate sized, non-professional rodeos attract bareback and bronc riders to fill their events. Most importantly, he wanted to establish a scholarship fund that those young cowboys and cowgirls could use to develop careers that would serve them when they found their time with rank horses had ended.
Last year, the TBRA awarded six scholarships at their inaugural finals. This year, with the help of their corporate partners, especially the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, they expect that to increase.
“We tell people all the time that although we have no kids of our own making, we already have six we’re putting through college and hope to add a lot more before it’s over,” said Michelle McElroy.
“In the last 10 years, my beach girl has had the crash course in rodeo,” said Daryl. “She knows more about our stats, marketing and back office structure than I do. Although I’m the face out front and the guy doing most of the talking, Michelle is in every major meeting with me. Her opinion on everything matters. In fact, the TBRA doesn’t make a move until we’re both in total agreement.”
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