Hearing the word “cowboy” conjures up a variety of images for most of us. It’s doubtful many can envision Travis Ericsson’s lifestyle. Travis is a […]
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Clay Real is a tie-down roper and team roper in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association. The 17 year old cowboy lives near Grafton, Neb., in the eastern part of the state, and inherited his love of rodeo from his grandpa, Dean Blum, who has team roped for a long time. His parents are also team ropers, and by the time he was ten, Clay was roping off a horse.
He heels for Cody Nye of Alliance, and rides a twelve year old roan named Joe, who shares a wonderful story with Clay. When Clay was five, he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and spent time in the hospital. At the same time, Joe was born with windswept legs, an angular limb deformity. No one thought the horse would turn out to be much, and they even considered putting him down. But as the days went on, Joe got better, and the family broke him, trained him, and now Clay ropes on him. So, just like Clay, Joe had a bad situation that turned out well.
Clay wears an insulin pump, which simplifies his life, especially during rodeo, he says. He still has to watch what he eats, but the adrenaline from competition during rodeo is easier to control with the pump.
He is a senior at McCool Junction High School, where he is involved in a lot of things, in part because it’s a small school. He played football, and is a member of FFA, Student Council, FBLA, FCA, and had a part in the One-Act. He was tricked into being a part of the One-Act cast, he says. “I was looking to get out of school a couple of extra days (for One-Act competition), and Coach said he had a part that was ‘just me’ – one line. In my mind, I took that as I had to say one line.” Turns out, the part was 70 lines, but Clay still got out of school for it!
His parents run a feedyard and a farming operation, and he spends his time after school activities and in the summer helping with cattle and driving tractor. He can fix pens, doctor and feed cattle, disc, spray, and drive grain cart during harvest. His favorite part of the farm is the cattle side of things.
He’s been to state finals twice in his rodeo career, as a sophomore in the team roping and steer wrestling, and as a junior in the team roping and tie-down roping. Last year, his goal was to make it back to the short-go in the tie-down, and he’s proud to say he accomplished that.
After high school, Clay will attend college somewhere in Nebraska, and hopes to rodeo. He’ll work on an agri-business degree. He has an older sister, Shelby, who is pursuing a nursing degree at Central Community College in Grand Island. He is the son of Ken and Kelli Real.