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Recipient of the Tom Parker Extra Mile Award Thomas Davis
story by Lily Weinacht
Bareback rider and steer wrestler Thomas Davis received the first Tom Parker Extra Mile Award this year. Tom Parker, the Casper College rodeo coach of the Thunderbirds for 27 years and a WHSRA board member, never failed to go the extra mile for the youth in rodeo. “Tom wasn’t one to talk about himself — it was about the kids,” says Tom’s wife, Linda Parker. She and Tom sponsored the Jim Moore Award, and Linda will continue that tradition. “Tom enjoyed seeing the kids excel and he just wanted to see them become good citizens. His rodeo career was interrupted by the Vietnam War when he was drafted, and he went to school on a rodeo scholarship when he got back.”
Tom was a faculty advisor in the region and served on the WHSRA board for more than 15 years. He was also a rodeo judge, known for staying up all night checking the PRCA rulebook if in doubt on a ruling. After he passed away from cancer in March of 2017, the WHSRA Board of Directors and several of his close friends in the rodeo world wanted a meaningful way to remember him. “Tom Parker always went out of his way to help people, and he never wanted recognition for it. He just did it out of the goodness of his heart,” says Thomas, who was the 2016/2017 WHSRA Student Bareback Director. The 19-year-old from Osage, Wyoming, played a part in creating the award as a board member, but had no idea that he would be the recipient.
“We wanted to remember Tom for his longevity of support in youth rodeo, and reward the kid who goes the extra mile to help,” explains Lee Martinez, who rodeoed in the WHSRA with Tom growing up and is now a retired rodeo judge. He and his wife, Carol, along with Marc and Gerda Dickinson and Bill Greer, helped sponsor the award. “I feel like we need to bring that back and encourage the youth of today to go that extra mile and be a better person. Thomas Davis was voted in by his peers. We wanted to give an award the recipient would be proud of, and we decided on a buckle.”
The recipient of the award was announced at the WHSRA state finals banquet, and Thomas, who is also the 2017 WHSRA Bareback Riding Champion, was nearly moved to tears. “Winning that award was more special to me than winning state,” he says. “I put the certificate and the buckle in a shadowbox on the wall where I can look at them and be proud.”
Thomas qualified for the NHSFR all four years of high school between shooting events and bareback riding, but he says serving on the WHSRA board was one of the most rewarding things he did in high school. “I got to know a lot of the kids in rodeo better, and I got to be closer to all the adult directors and staff members. I learned how to work with the association and see what all went on in the background to make it work. I took it for granted until I was actually there making the decisions!” Thomas has since graduated from high school and now attends Central Wyoming College on a rodeo scholarship. He’s currently sitting third in the average in bareback riding and fourth in the average in steer wrestling in the Central Rocky Mountain Region. Both sets of his grandparents and his mom, Alison Davis, come to his college rodeos as often as they can. He can always hear his Grandma Kathy cheering for him, no matter how loud the crowd is.
Thomas is studying farm and ranch management at CWC, along with taking a farrier class, and plans to use those skills working on his family’s ranch once he graduates. He also attended a Jed Moore Roughstock School in January and was awarded a PRCA permit that he rodeoed on this year. The PRCA permit he won with his WHSRA state title will carry him through pro rodeos this next season, and he hopes to qualify for the NLBRA finals once more in the bareback as well. “I didn’t think I’d be able to compete as well as I am in the upper level. I won the bulldogging at Chadron, and that gave me a boost of confidence, so I’ve set the goal to make the college finals in at least one event this season.”