Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo: Sixth Perfomance

SixthRodeo05 So after my little spot news outing to cover a fire at a local business, I finally was able to settle into shooting my first rodeo performance at the Foster Communications Coliseum. I am slated to shoot the Friday performance as well as both performances on Saturday so this is more or less going to be a scouting mission to see how the opening ceremonies will happen. That way when I come back I can decide what will be a better position to shoot from at the next performance.

I know that I will not be able to stay for the entire performance because we have been having trouble transmitting photos from the Coliseum back to the office. That usually means that I will only get to shoot the first three events (bull riding, steer wrestling and bareback riding) before leaving. I think that we will be double staffing the next few performances just so we can get photos from the other events to go in our special rodeo section that will come out a week after the rodeo is done.

SixthRodeo01 SixthRodeo07 SixthRodeo06 SixthRodeo03 As far as the opening ceremony of the rodeo goes, this one for me personally rated about a 6 out of 10. It looked a lot like last year's and didn't really have that wow factor I've come to expect. And to be perfectly honest, the opening section of bull riding wasn't all that exciting. I don't know if it was just that the cowboys were that bad or if the bulls were just that good, but no one seemed to be able to stay on for the full eight seconds.

However, the steer wrestling, as usual, was pretty good. Royce Johnson was able to bring his steer down in just over four seconds which is always a thrill to watch. Bareback riding was about the same as the bull riding with not many of the riders scoring very high marks. The one bright spot in the bareback was when Shon Gibson scored an 82 on his ride. Other than those two competitors, my night at the rodeo didn't really have anything to write home about, and I had to leave to get photos back to the office. I wish I was able to stay, but we have to work within the time constraints we're given. Such is the news business.

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So Long Catfish Corner

CatfishFire01 It never fails... every time I'm about to go and shoot my first rodeo performance of the year something happens that makes me alter my game plan in some way. Last year it was a car crash on the loop, this year a fire at Catfish Corner, a local eatery on Beauregard Avenue. It has been a while since I've gone on a spot news run so when the call came out on the emergency scanner I thought there might be something to it. Most of the time we wait for additional information before we commit staff members to a call, but we were sitting there when another employee from the advertising side of the building came into the newsroom and said there was smoke pouring out of the building. We knew we had something.

CatfishFire10 CatfishFire02 CatfishFire03 CatfishFire04 When I first arrived at the scene the first thing I noticed was the aerial water cannon throwing water onto the roof of the structure. In nine years of working at the Standard-Times I'd never seen that before. But other than that everything seemed to be under control. The fire department had men on the ground with hoses and some where cutting vents in the roof of the building. All pretty normal stuff.

Then one of the air conditioning units on the roof caught fire and it just seemed to spread through the rest of the building. I was standing in the back lot behind the structure when I started to hear what sounded like bricks falling over and breaking. When I walked over to the west side of the building I realized it was the windows breaking out because of the heat being generated inside. As the windows broke the fire was fed with a large amount of oxygen and the fire inside the building just went crazy. There was nothing the fire department could do to salvage the structure, they were just going to have to let it burn and try and keep it from spreading to neighboring buildings. It was kind of an exciting event before I had to head over to the rodeo.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013 High School Basketball Playoffs: Central vs. EP Coronado

CHSplayoff04 Just as I predicted last week, I was taken off my normal all-stock show tour and sent out on the road to follow the Central High School boys basketball team to Fort Stockton in their playoff quest to the state tournament. This is the first week of boys playoff basketball, and to tell you truth, I was happy to be out of the Livestock Barn. That's one of the great things about this job, it changes up from day to day.

First up on the list of opponents for the Bobcats was the Thunderbirds of El Paso Coronado in the bi-district round. If you look at the two teams on paper you would think to yourself, "How on earth is Central going to be able to compete?" Coronado was touting a 31-1 overall record coming into the game, ranked 9th in the state and had already beaten Central once this year by 17 points. Thankfully, the Central players don't pay attention to rankings and statics and rely on team work and a can-do attitude to get what they want done.

CHSplayoff07 CHSplayoff03 CHSplayoff05 What a great game! It seemed like the Bobcats had a chip on their shoulder from the last time they met the Thunderbirds in the Doug McCutchen Memorial Tournament last December. They came out firing on all cylinders hitting six 3-pointers in the first half and held a 25-24 lead at the half. The Thunderbirds looked a little stunned as they made their way back to the locker room, realizing that this was not the same team they played two months ago.

Central kept up the pace in the second half and extended their lead with just over seven minutes to play. But there's a reason that Coronado is 9th in the state and they slowly began to work themselves back into the lead. Coronado went on a 10-0 run and stalled the game for over five minutes. Central didn't score again until senior Adrian Neira sunk a few free-throws with 1:57 left in the game. Almost immediately following Neira's free-throws, Central's Justin Saddler stole the ball and put in a basket to bring the Bobcats within one at 41-40.

With just 13 seconds remaining the Bobcats found themselves down by three points, 43-40. They needed some help, and it came by way of Adrian Neira. Attempting to put up a three-point shot as time ticked away, Neira was fouled by two Coronado defenders and sent to the free-throw line. Neira calmly walked to the line and sunk all three shots as if he were at some random practice at school instead of a season-ending playoff game. We were headed to overtime.

Unfortunately, Central's heroics would end there. Central never held a lead in overtime and finished their season with a 58-54 loss. It was fun while it lasted and I hope that all the other playoff games I shoot over the next week are as exciting. Congratulations on a great season Bobcats!

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2013 San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo: A Few Days at the Stock Show

PigCow08 After the rodeo slack events come to a close over at the Spur Arena, the stock show begins to kick into high gear. I actually like spending time at the stock show even though there is one particular animal that I can't stand to be around... pigs. I don't like the pigs. Of all the animals that are displayed at the stock show it's the pigs that seem to smell the worst, they run wild through the stock barn and their high-pitched squeal/scream really gets on my nerves. As I'm sitting here typing this post I still get the occasional waft of pig stuck to the bottom of my shoes. Yeah, that will be there for the next few weeks no matter how hard I scrub them.

But, the kids who show these animals are fun to hang out with and really put in a lot of effort to care for these animals. The students get their animals early in the year and then feed, exercise and groom them for the upcoming stock shows. There is a tremendous amount of time and effort put into this, almost like caring for a small child. And just because you have an animal at the stock show doesn't necessarily mean you get to compete in the stock show! If you are competing in one of the market shows you have to go through an inspection process by the judge and if he deems your animal unworthy, you have to load them up on a truck and off they go to the feed lot or the auction house. As quickly as that, an animal you have invested so much time and money in is whisked away never to be seen again. And you don't even get to participate in the show. I just hope these kids don't form to much of an attachment to the animals because that could be a hard break up.

PigCow09 PigCow03 PigCow06 PigCow01After photographing two days of pigs, my least favorite animal, I moved across the lot to my favorite animals, the cattle. I don't know what it is, but the cattle look like giant lumbering Labradors, all cuddly and cute and well behaved. They don't smell (as bad), you don't have to worry about them running wild through the barn and they're easy to handle (for the most part) in the show arena. And the students that show cattle seem to be a lot less stressed than those that show pigs, they don't have that, "Somebody, stop that runaway pig!" look on their face.

I have been on the Monday - Friday shift for about a week now and I'll probably stick to photographing the stock shows this week and our other photographer, Kim, will shoot the rodeo performances. However, for the second week of the stock show and rodeo my schedule may get a little more hectic because of high school playoff basketball. And I'm sure I'll pick up a rodeo performance or two. But for now I'm happy to wander through the Livestock Barn at the fairgrounds among the pigs (not) and cattle. Perhaps I'll make my way through the goat and sheep shows soon.

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2013 San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo: Slack - Days 3 and 4

SlackRope01 After the first two days of team roping and steer wrestling slack it was on to calf roping. San Angelo is probably more of a calf roping town more so than any other rodeo event. Every October the Cinch Roping Fiesta is held at the outdoor roping arena which draws some of the biggest names in the sport as well as some massive crowds from across the area. So, naturally, I was expecting more community members to show up for the next two days of calf roping slack at the 1st Community Credit Union Spur Arena. But, to my amazement, there was almost no one in the stands to watch the free event. That doesn't mean that the action in the arena was any less exciting though.

SlackRope02 SlackRope06 SlackRope03 Of the timed events in the sport of rodeo calf roping and steer wrestling are probably my favorite. They are fast paced and requires the rider to dismount their horse which means anything can happen. The cowboy can lose their footing, the horses can be uncooperative as well as the cows. But when everything comes together perfectly it can be quite an amazing sight.

The sport of rodeo has drawn some criticism from animal rights groups touting that it's cruel to put these animals through such traumatic experiences, but it is important to remember that every event in the sport is rooted in real life ranch work that has been around since man first decided to raise animals. Rodeo competitors are individuals that have honed their skills over the years to provide spectators with great action and good clean family fun for all.

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2013 San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo: Slack - Days 1 and 2

Slack05 Well it's that time again... rodeo time. Every year thousands of professional cowboys descend on our little town out in the middle of nowhere West Texas to take a chance at a cash prize in what I'm told is one of the best and biggest rodeos in the country. But to have a chance at the money, certain events must go through what is called slack.

Slack, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the sport of rodeo, is essentially preliminary rounds for the timed events of the rodeo. Those events are team roping, calf roping, steer roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. Something like 1000 participants come to compete for 80 spots in the eight rodeo performances over the next two weeks. The first two days of slack are dedicated to team roping and steer wrestling. We cover it every year as a warmup to the actual rodeo events and can be quite fun.

Slack03 Slack01 Slack02 Slack04 I should be on the day shift, Monday-Friday, for most of the rodeo performances so I will have limited rodeo assignments this year, but I'm sure that I will cover at least two rodeo performances. However, we do have several local basketball teams in the payoffs so it is always a crap shoot as what my evening assignments will be. If the schools that are close to San Angelo are still in the playoffs I will most likely cover those games instead of the rodeo. But for now, I'll just settle for a little slack.

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