SWTJC Rodeo & Rodeo Program
courtesy of SWTJC Rodeo Alumni As Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas celebrates their 60th Anniversary as a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) team, […]
Courtesy of NIRAA
Sylvia Gann Mahoney has been associated with college rodeo since 1977 when she became the New Mexico Junior College rodeo coach. At the time, she was one of only three female college rodeo coaches. She was hired as an English teacher and found that she had “inherited” the additional job as adviser to the rodeo club. Her knowledge of rodeo was limited to being a spectator but never one to back away from a challenge, she got to work. After all, this was Lea County, famous for producing more than 50 champions! She tapped into that talent pool for advice and counsel. Tuffy Cooper was one of those who were very helpful to her. Tuffy was a former college cowboy, roped at the first college finals in 1949, college champion tie down roper at the second college finals in 1950 and the head of a roping dynasty, Roy, Betty Gayle, Tuf, Clif: you know the names! Her women’s team won National Reserve Champions in 1982: the record still stands at NMJC.
She was a founder and first president of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni organization. It will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2016.
In 2004, Texas A&M Press published her book: College Rodeo: From Show to Sport, the first definitive book on the history of college rodeo.
Sylvia judged Miss Rodeo America three times.
She was a founder and first executive director of the Western Heritage Center and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame. Today, the museum has a new $5 million building.
Sylvia, a native Texan, is an educator, author, literary editor/publicist (Design4Writers), photographer, and community volunteer. She was raised in New Mexico at Lovington.
Sylvia earned a master’s degree in English and taught in the public system and at New Mexico Junior College. In Texas, she was an administrator at Vernon College, and later elected to the Board Trustees at Vernon College.
In 2015, Sylvia was the keynote speaker at the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Medora, ND. She said, “The most recognized American icon is the cowboy. The legend of the cowboy represents what is best about being Americans—self-reliance, hard work, loyalty, honesty, integrity, independence, friendship, and keeping your word.”
In 2004, she wtas named Vernon Rotary co-chairman of “Marking of the Great Western Trail from Mexico through nine U.S. states into Canada.” Some 200 seven-foot-white-cement posts with red letters Great Western Trail (GWT) were dedicated along the two-thousand-mile trail. The path of the GWT, the longest, largest Texas cattle trail that lasted the most number of years, had never been documented. Rotarians along the two-thousand-mile trail were asked to document the trail through their county or state.
After finding primary sources, the Texas Rotarians joined each state in dedicating their first GWT marker. Texans dedicated markers in each of the twenty counties in Texas, eight of nine US states, as well as in Matamoros, Mexico, and Val Marie, Saskatchewan. The GWT project volunteers promoted passage of a Congressional bill to designate the GWT and Chisholm Trail as National Historic Trails. The Feasibility Study should go before Congress in late 2015.
Texas Tech University Press will publish Sylvia’s book on the GWT project in October 2015 titled Finding the Great Western Trail.
In June 2015, Sylvia went with a group organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives on a 17-day trip to Russia to visit Rotary Clubs in four major cities. The group’s focus was to promote goodwill and better friendship between the two countries and to learn about their grassroots ideas about peace.
The US group was warmly welcomed into the homes of Russian Rotarians for dinner. They gave the US group tours of their new businesses. After 70 years of Communism, the Russian people now have enough food, are allowed to own their own homes, businesses, and cars; to travel without restrictions, and take vacations. The Russian people showed characteristics of people on a new frontier. After millions of World War II casualities followed by governmental repression for 70 years, the people feel strongly about maintaining their new lifestyle, without war.
Sylvia lives in Fort Worth near her daughter and son and her five grandsons (one is a Marine).
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