Meet the Member Jim Persinger
story by Laura Martin When Jim Persinger discovered the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association in 2012, feeling like he could still compete at the age […]
story by Lindsay King
World champions walk away from the Calgary Stampede, Alberta Championship Circuit and Daine’s Ranch Rodeo with bronze sculptures crafted by Ross Contway. The Fort Shaw, Montana, native is a construction manager by trade, bronze sculptor by choice and calf roper by passion. “Calf roping is absolutely the most fun a human being can have. My dad rodeoed in the 60s and 70s, my siblings and I did it all through high school and college,” said the 56-year-old NSPRA member. A 1985 graduate of Montana State University, Ross earned his degree in construction engineering and puts it to use as a manager for Sletton Construction. That same year Ross married Tina, who also graduated from MSU. “My senior year of college I did not go to a single rodeo, once I graduated I was too busy making a living to go. I got back into it about 2006, but this past year has been the first time I have really competed.”
Ross’ dad Jay taught him the trade of bronze sculpting and to be a horseman. “Dad never had a lot of quality horses, but the ones he did have he made the most of them. He was able to take a common horse and make something out of them. He trained all of his own horses.” Two of the best horses Ross has ever had came from his dad and he seasoned them last year in the NSPRA. “The biggest satisfaction of this year will be knowing that I trained the horses I ride. Before last year they had not been off the place, but now they are seasoned, and it will be fun to see what we can do in the NSPRA this year.” Ross is working towards qualifying for the finals again since he was unable to attend last year. Tina will join him in the rodeo arena in the ribbon roping, her first time to compete since high school. “The first batch of rodeos I plan to attend are in Utah, but I have been fighting the weather. It has been so bad up here that I have not been able to practice outside at all yet.”
With a full-time bronze sculptor as his dad, Ross learned his way around the casting shop as a kid. “Dad has done the most sculptures for the Calgary Stampede of any artist ever. I think I have done maybe 56 for them so far and he has cast twice that many. I started seriously sculpting in my 20s.” Building rodeo trophies around 20-inches tall is no easy task. “I think Rod Hay has one of my sculptures, many guys who have won them go on to win at the NFR. It is a pretty neat deal.” Two professionals Ross looks to for inspiration are Fred Whitfield and Jim Gladstone. “Fred did not have anything starting out, everything he accomplished on his own. And Jim is the only Canadian to ever win the calf roping at the NFR. On top of that, he is Native American, he sets a good example. I am also Native American, so I figure if he can be a success, so can I.”
The NSPRA is a much different atmosphere than Ross was used to from back in college, everyone is all there for the right reasons. “People are just so happy to be here and still competing at the age we are. It is just a blessing to get on a horse at 56 years old. I feel so humbled and blessed to be able to continue doing what I love. As long as I can continue to get on a horse and not fall off, I will continue to compete.” For more information about Ross and Jay’s bronze sculpting, visit contwaybronze.com.
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