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Meet the Member Charleigh Davis
story by Lindsay King
A big hug and a mile-wide smile await Charleigh Davis back at the trailer after each run from her grandpa Chuck Sullivan. “My grandpa and grandma Sullivan have always been my number one fans and been there to support me. They keep me going. No matter if it is a good or bad run, my papa is always the first one to tell me what I did wrong or did well,” said the 15-year-old from Aztec, New Mexico. A trip to the NLBRA finals in barrels, goat tying and poles last year was this sophomore’s first rodeo in a national setting. Though she laid down two pretty runs in all three events, she was just shy of the short round. “During my first barrel run I struggled at the first barrel and almost hit the second but lifted my leg to avoid it. My papa had the biggest smile on his face when I got back to the trailer. It made me feel so good about myself.”
It was in late October when Chuck was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Charleigh transferred to a homeschooling program almost immediately. “I want to spend as much time as I can with him. I will stay with him any chance I get.” Charleigh lost her grandma on her dad’s side to cancer leading her to aspire to become a nurse at the St. Judd Children’s Hospital in Nashville. “That one is the headquarters for St. Judd, where the really tough cases are. I want to be with the little kids and help them beat cancer.” Her journey towards nursing will hopefully start in Douglas, Arizona, at Cochise College and finish in Grand Junction, Colorado, at Colorado Mesa University. Charleigh intends to rodeo all four years.
Luckily, Charleigh will be able to continue competing in her favorite event when she gets to college – goat tying. “I like the adrenaline rush of it. You will always have a different goat, so it is a new adventure in every run. You really have to be in the moment.” One of her primary goals for this rodeo season is to consistently tie in the low sevens. This is in addition to make consistently clean and pretty runs in the barrels. Her barrel coach since Charleigh was six, Cori Mars is to thank for improvements in the clover leaf pattern over the years. “That is what I love about rodeo, I get to compete against my friends and watch them improve and they do the same for me. They are all so supportive. I get to watch my best friends do what we all love to do.” Though her parents Tim and Dana Stanley are also a big part of Charleigh’s support system. “They don’t ever let me get down on myself and they are supportive no matter what is going on.”
The four inches between Charleigh’s ears quickly becomes her worst enemy as a rodeo approaches. She is working on kicking her habit of deciding she is not good enough. “Every time I make a run I focus on what I did well. I also constructively pick out the things I can do better so I make sure I am always improving and can move forward with confidence.” It is not the accomplishments of her role models that appeals most to Charleigh, it is their character and willingness to help anyone. “Lynn Smith and Jackie Crawford have both helped me so much. I think it is incredible to see all they have done with their rodeo careers and that they are willing to share their knowledge with me so I can do what they do one day.” Just knowing how many people have touched her rodeo career makes Charleigh aspire to be a worthy role model for others. She’s seen all the lows and highs of rodeo to know what true grit and determination requires. “Even when you are in a funk, you can never give up on yourself. The harder you push through it, the greater the outcome will be. It will be even better than you imagined.”