Cody Hancock spent part of last weekend back on campus at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. He harkened back to a time when he easily could have gone to college in his native Arizona and competed in rodeos a lot closer to home.
He chose CSI because of its coach, Shawn Davis, a three-time world saddle bronc riding champion. Hancock knew Davis could mold him into a champion cowboy, something he figured the coaches in Arizona couldn't do.
Hancock was right. Although he didn't claim championship honors at CSI, his training under Davis prepared him as a professional. In 2000, he became the first roughstock cowboy in PRCA history to rally from No. 15 to a world title at the 2000 National Finals Rodeo. He also is the only cowboy to win four Pace Picante ProRodeo Series championship events, the most recent at the 2004 Pace Challenge in Omaha, Neb.
For Hancock, it seemed fitting that he, along with Davis, were inducted into the CSI Hall of Fame together during festivities March 5. The two were the first rodeo athletes to be invited into the CSI Hall, which was established in six years ago.
"Shawn Davis taught me a lot about winning," Hancock said. "I'm tickled to have the honor of being inducted at the same time as him. I had a scholarship to every school in Arizona, but I wanted to learn from a guy who had won world championships."
Hancock even used the forum to take a comedic jab at his mentor.
"When they inducted me, I told the people there that I finally got one up on Shawn," Hancock said. "It took him three world titles to get in and took me only one."
Hancock hopes to add to his world title and other accomplishments this year, and he is eager to return to competition and defend his title later this month at the Laughlin (Nev.) River Stampede. He has been sidelined since Dec. 5, 2004, the result of a torn pelvic muscle suffered exactly one month earlier at the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco. Hancock qualified for the Wrangler NFR but lasted just three rounds before the pain became too unbearable.
"I knew I was hurt," said Hancock, recalling his 88-point ride on Growney's Stunts California on Nov. 5 in San Francisco that effectively ended his season. "About halfway through the ride, I felt a pull that went all the way into my gut. After I got off, everyone was congratulating me, and I told them I was hurt. They didn't believe me. It felt like my guts were torn out."
He underwent surgery Jan. 5 to reattach the three muscles that ripped off the pelvic bone and just recently was cleared to resume full physical activity.
"I felt great (heading into the Wrangler NFR)," Hancock said. "The doctors here thought a month at home would be enough time. I knew after the first night, first jump, when I felt it rip. I tried to ride for three nights, but I couldn't do it. I left Las Vegas the next day so I could have the surgery. I had to wait a month for the swelling to go down."
The time off — the longest injury break in Hancock's career — hasn't been without some benefit. New PRCA Commissioner Troy Ellerman appointed Hancock to oversee PRCA Xtreme Bulls, the third-year operation that features the top cowboys against the world's top bulls.
"I was overwhelmed when he (Ellerman) asked me to do it," Hancock said. "It's been a great learning experience, but it's not near as fun putting it on as it is riding bulls."
And that's exactly where Hancock wants to be, even if it means getting banged up.
"I've been real blessed in my career," Hancock said. "I never think it's not worth it. I love riding bulls, and everything I have is from the Lord and from bull riding."
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