Every year, Friday night at the CNFR, is Alumni Night. You can imagine, with just almost 65 CNFR's in the bag, there are a lot of alumni. Of course, I, myself would be considered an alumni. I count myself lucky to be able to still be involved even though I am not rodeoing any longer. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni works hard to preserve the history and there is even a book out all about it. (www.collegerodeoalumni.com)

Tonight in the opening of the CNFR, I had the task of creating something that would highlight a pioneer of college rodeo., Mr. L.N. "Sonny" Sikes. This man was a fixture on the chutes at the timed event end. He even had a special chair. In his retirement, he was presented this chair by the CNFR committee and NIRA board of directors. He is the epitome of a pioneer for the sport of college rodeo. A collegiate national champion team roper and tie down roper, he competed for Sam Houston State University and after graduation became the coach at Sam Houston. He coached numerous individual national champions and national team champions. He went on to become the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association's Executive Secretary. He and his wife, Joanne, ran the NIRA out of their garage from 1962 through 1979. In his honor, the NIRA established the L.N. Sonny Sikes Pioneer Award. It was awarded to Stormie Haynie, a student director and student at Sam Houston State. That is fitting.

Also being honored tonight, during the intermission, we had an opportunity to meet several other champions. A couple from both Casper College and the University of Wyoming. With the history and tradition that is still strong and alive in the NIRA, it is always exciting to see past champions return. In the past five years, I have even had a chance to meet the one and only Sharon Camarillo- she was a national champion goat tyer who went on to the NFR to win multiple world titles in the barrel racing. I was a little star struck that year.

I think it is important to remember where we have come from- so often it shapes us more than we know!