story by Julie Carter Hailing from the Steer Wrestling capitol of the Navajo Nation, Crownpoint, NM, the 17-year-old Tsosie twins, Tyra and Tydon, have made […]
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Meet the Member Luke Sullivan
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Luke Sullivan never wanted to ride bulls. But at age twelve, after his dad insisted he try it, he hasn’t quit since.
His dad, Travis Sullivan, had bought a herd of mini-bulls, and as a former bull rider, he wanted his son to do it, too. “I was really scared of it,” Luke said “I didn’t want to. He begged me to get on one, and I finally did, and I’ve liked it ever since.”
The New Mexico High School Rodeo Association member is a senior at Magdalena High School, a small school where there are twenty kids in his senior class. The best part of a small school, Luke says, is that you get to know everybody well. The disadvantage of a small school is the same as the advantage: “everyone knows you,” he laughs. There’s a lot of gossip and drama among the girls, but the boys don’t do drama. “They sit in the corner and let the girls be.”
Luke lives on a ranch with his dad, about 35 miles from town. Most of the road is trail road; no asphalt and no gravel, so the 35 mile trip takes about an hour. Luke doesn’t drive a four-wheel drive vehicle, so if it’s muddy or snowy, he can’t make it to school.
Because of the distance to town, Luke and his dad make sure they have any groceries or supplies they might need before Luke heads home every day.
Luke has suffered his share of bull riding accidents. He’s had five broken arms, two concussions and an accident where his throat, including his voice box and diaphragm, were injured. During a ride, Luke got pulled down as the bull came up, causing the damage. He had a tracheotomy while it healed.
But his biggest medical condition was not caused by a bull. His heart has raced when he got excited or nervous, but he never realized it wasn’t normal, till he passed out twice, once during a football game and once after he got hung up on a bull. His heart had a nerve that went “haywire” under stressful conditions, causing him to black out. He had surgery for it in December of last year.
Luke has a full ride rodeo scholarship to Ranger College in Stephenville, Texas, where he will follow his older sister, Kenna, who competes in college rodeo there.
He has been to state finals his sophomore and junior years. His mom, Kerrie Pitts, is one of his biggest fans.