If there was ever anybody that could say they did it their way, it would be the 14 time All-Around World Champion cowboy, Trevor Brazile.
Trevor announced his retirement right before the National Finals Rodeo this year. Win, lose or draw he would not be chasing the #1 back number. Not retiring from all but staying closer to home and spending more time involved in his kids and wife, Shada’s life. I have had a great working relationship with Brazile ever since I after I started working at the Wise County Messenger and the Brazile family moved to Decatur, Texas. I wasn’t able to go to Las Vegas for the NFR this year but kept up with every run. The last jaw dropping performance was the clincher. I immediately texted him congrats and could tell from excited letters that he was still high with elation from the last run.
There are certain people in this world that just command respect without even trying. His second to none work ethic infectious, so for me, I’m always pumped to get to photograph him. I know it will be good because he wants the best and I feel obliged to give him mine. I really got to know Trevor from 2007 – 2010. One year, I spent 8 days following and photographing he and the Cooper boys through the day to day life of a champion and the work that is put in to succeed. The days were long, They would start early and between going out and practicing during the day, they would sign autographs in sponsor booths and do television and radio talk shows. On top of all that, they had to perform every night for 10 days and leave everything in the arena. My day ended around 2 am everyday after working images and sending them to the paper, 7 am, back up again, shadowing cowboys. The 10 days in Las Vegas this year were no different for Trevor, although this time there was the added pressure of wanting to go out on top. 20 years of putting in the work every day, handling the pressure of the limelight and still performing your best in the ring. To pull off the win, the 10th and final run would have to have one of his best runs ever. Shada said that on the way to the arena that night, she had peace about it and knew he was going to pull it off. He ended with the best time ever, over the course of the 10 days! A true champion!
4 days after winning his 14th PRCA All Around Cowboy World Champion title, Trevor agreed to a follow-up story and photo shoot for his hometown paper, the Wise County Messenger. I have shot him in the arena, around town and just about any way you can shoot. For this one, I wanted to focus more on the next phase of life and where he is going, rather than where he has been.
We arrived at his house that Wednesday morning after the finals, not knowing he had just gotten home at midnight the night before. I could tell he and family were exhausted but he still performed as a pro. My wife and I started setting up lights while the reporter interveiwed Trevor and his wife, Shada. I used a 5 foot octagon soft box on camera right to light the entire scene and a kicker flash to camera left for the main shot. What to use for a background… well, being December, the house was decorated abundantly for Christmas, so not wanting to date the photo we had to make the background a lot tighter than I would have liked. What better way to say world champ than the trophy saddle, not just one but two. For the most part, the hardest part of a feature shoot is figuring out what you want to do then setting it up is easy. Our timing was good, just as we had finished getting ready with light checks and a few last minute adjustments, Trevor was finished with the interview and ready to step in. 15 minutes later we were done with the shoot and loading up.
Trevor Brazile may be retiring from full-time rodeo, but I am sure we will see more great things from this hard working cowboy. I am thankful for the awesome memories and images over the last 20 years. I hope to have the privilege to shoot whatever comes in his next phase of life, too!
The Story by Richard Greene /WCMessenger…
Twelve hours after arriving home from Las Vegas, the two newest additions to Trevor Brazile’s world all-around title saddle collection still rest in the living room while the rest of the unpacking begins.
After 10 rounds of intense competition against the world’s best and a final ride into history, the world’s top cowboy began a new phase of his life – semi-retirement.
For Decatur’s 24-time world champion, the new schedule with longer periods between competitions and more time to spend chasing his three children – Treston, Style and Swayzi – comes with a learning curve.
“I’m learning as I go,” said Brazile from his home in Decatur last week. “I’ll always have things to do in the arena. I’ve always gone about getting ready from year to year. These are unchartered waters. I’ll be in the arena more than you’d think. I love what I do.”
Before the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Brazile announced his intentions to cut his normal busy schedule and the chase for more all-around titles to a limited run. It’s a decision he expected to come years before he turned 42 and his oldest son, Treston, reached 11.
“I always said since Treston was born, when he goes to public school that I was going to be done rodeoing full time,” Brazile said. “So this came later in my career than I thought because I thought it’d come at age 5 or 6 and he’s 11. And that’s because my wife really enjoyed not only the freedom of us getting to go and travel and have one big field trip and do school at home or on the road or wherever we were. She just really enjoyed homeschooling our kids. I thought she’d be tired of it after the first year, but she said one of the most rewarding things she’s probably done in her life was teaching our kids how to read.”
With the children getting older, Brazile and wife, Shada, deliberated for several months the decision to move to the next phase.
“He called me in April, and he was thinking about it,” she said. “It was the first time the kids and I hadn’t been with him. He was in California, and it was getting hard on him. The kids missing it at home was wearing on him. He talked about stopping right then, but he’d given his word to his team roping partner and to himself to start the year. So he reached deep down, and he worked maybe harder this year, as far as in the practice pen, than he has in a long time. He was all in.”
While retirement or a slow-down crept into the back of his mind, his performance in the arena never showed it. Brazile qualified for the National Finals Steer Roping where he earned $45,477 to move within striking distance of his brother-in-law and reigning all-around champion Tuf Cooper. Cooper owned a lead of just more than $5,000 on Brazile entering the NFR where they would be matched up in tied-down roping with the all-around title on the line.
Before the NFR started, Brazile announced to the rodeo world that he planned on entering semi-retirement, likely making it his last finals appearance.
With a chance to still chase down a bookend title to his career, Brazile’s announcement added some pressure and put an even larger spotlight on the world’s most famous cowboy.
Brazile admittedly said he struggled in the early rounds.
“It was such a crazy week. The talk going into it was that I was retiring and I was 42,” he said. “I think subconsciously that I had bought into the 42 more than I thought I had. I had been a little too aggressive probably to start. I probably made more mistakes than I had in the past this year.”
But in the fourth round, Brazile started turning the week around. He turned in a 6.80 to win the round and pocket $26,230. He followed that performance by tying for the best round in the fifth go with a 7.5 for another $20,871.79.
The two victories and getting in the money in round 6, put Brazile in position entering the final round to think about overcoming Cooper and adding an all-around title in his last run.
Heading into the final round, Shada had figured that her husband needed a victory to bring home the title. The anticipation of his final run capped an emotional week.
“I’m not an emotional person but tears flowed all week,” she said. “I’d got to where I don’t have to crunch numbers; I have a good idea in my head of what he has to do. He had to win the round to win in my mind. It was doable but a stretch. But going to the rodeo that night, I just knew he was going to do it.”
Under the brightest lights, Brazile displayed the form that made him the sport’s greatest champion. Brazile turned in a final round 7.2 to win not only the round but also claim the all-around world title with $26,230. It was a dream scenario on the NFR stage for the final time for Brazile.
“Leaving Vegas my last time, with the fastest overall time and most rounds won, and more importantly, the very last calf I ran out there and in a had-to-win scenario, to be able to win and know the very last round that I ever competed at was pretty special,” Brazile said.