Bareback rider Clint Corey will no doubt receive a thunderous ovation when he lines up for his first ride at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (March 17-20) in Pocatello, Idaho.
Corey will be one of the marquee cowboys competing at this year's DNCFR.
He won a world bareback riding title in 1991. He's qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 18 times. He won the Wrangler NFR aggregate title at the spry age of 40 in 2001. He's one good season away from surpassing $2 million in career earnings, a feat that has been accomplished by only four other cowboys, but never by a bareback rider.
It will probably take the announcer several moments to describe all of Corey's accomplishments when he climbs into the chute. But this year, the introduction will take a few extra seconds, because the announcer will have to add some golden extra words: "ProRodeo Hall of Fame cowboy."
Corey was one of nine individuals selected on March 3 for induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. Induction ceremonies will take place at the Hall of Fame on Aug. 14.
"Wow, that's unbelievable," said Corey, 43, from his home in Powell Butte, Ore. "When I started in rodeo, I never dreamed about a day like this."
Corey's climb from young cowboy to rodeo immortal happened because he simply loved riding bucking horses.
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a cowboy," Corey said. "I wanted to dress like a cowboy and do the things they did. I wanted to ride bucking horses. I've been lucky, I've gotten to do all the things I dreamed about doing."
In his early years, Corey wouldn't let anything get in the way of hitting the rodeo road and riding bucking horses. As he's gotten older, though, his priorities have changed.
"I used to love to travel and meet people and ride at rodeos all over the country," Corey said. "Now, I still love to ride bucking horses, but I'm not so keen on the travel."
Corey has four good reasons to stay closer to home: His wife, Dianna; daughter, Bailey; and sons, Blaine and Zane.
But he plans to continue to compete for as long as he's able and he still enjoys the competition. That means that his trip to Pocatello for the DNCFR will be a special one. He's won the DNCFR bareback riding title three times. He'd love to add a fourth. He'd also like to qualify for the Wrangler NFR for a 19th time.
"I've never taken competing in the DNCFR or the Wrangler NFR for granted," Corey said. "I know how hard it is to get there. You compete against the same cowboys all year and only the top 15 get to go [to the Wrangler NFR]."
Corey, though, made it look easy, qualifying for the Wrangler NFR 17 consecutive times, until he came up just short in 2002.
"That made me appreciate what I'd done all that much more," said Corey, who rebounded to make the Wrangler NFR field in 2003, finishing the year in 13th place.
And now, the rest of the rodeo world is showing its appreciation for the career Corey has produced.
"I guess what makes going into the Hall of Fame so special is that other people chose me for the honor," Corey said. "That's saying something. That means a lot to me."
It also gave Corey time to reflect on a rodeo career that's in its third decade.
"Really, I've accomplished everything I set out to accomplish when I started," Corey said. "I've won a world championship. I've won the average at the Finals. Now, I'm going into the Hall of Fame.
"I guess I can retire."
The roar of the crowd in Pocatello may help Corey change his mind. After all, he's riding as well as ever. And it'll be hard to walk away from a sport that's embracing him so tightly.
ProRodeo Sports News is published bi-weekly by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. For more information or to subscribe, contact them by clicking here.