The old adage “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” can be either a statement of mistrust in the abilities of others, or rooted in self-confidence.
For 18-year-old local cowboy Cody White, intent is crystal clear. He means no disrespect toward anyone. It’s just that he is going to do it himself, his way.
A 2022 graduate of Liberty Bell High School, White participated in football and wrestling. In his senior year as a Mountain Lion, he qualified for this past year’s WIAA Mat Classic State Wrestling Championships for 2B class schools. He wrestled his way to a podium appearance, winning third place in the 145-pound division.
But his heart is in rodeo, a sport not sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). Instead, White and several other local youths have hit the Washington High School Rodeo circuit, and the results this year have been exceptional.
His grandmother Suellen White, a former school district superintendent in the Methow Valley, Easton and Odessa School districts, probably describes Cody to a tee: “He’s not a real bookworm,” she said. “But when he latches on to something he goes hard. He’s certainly not lazy, by any means.”
That is clearly the case in how White developed his own riding arena on the family property.
“There aren’t many areas to practice around here so I decided to build my own arena up by our house,” said White. Consisting mostly of repurposed materials common to a cattle ranch, White’s creation includes a loading stall, chutes for moving animals about, small equipment storage shed, what appears to be a small holding corral for stock animals and a completely fenced-in riding ring.
He qualified for the 2022 National High School Finals last month in Gillette, Wyoming, in two events, bareback and saddle bronc riding. His first-place finish in the Washington State High School Rodeo Association’s final points race in saddle bronc competition, and third place in bareback, were his tickets to the national dance. While he didn’t qualify in bull riding, that is one event he hopes to eventually master.
His trip to Gillette was marred by a wrist injury, which contributed to a disappointing result: not qualifying for the National Finals in either event. It wasn’t a total loss, however. While in Wyoming, he spent time with the rodeo coaching staff at Northwest College’s Cody Center campus. White was offered a full-ride scholarship to the local junior college and plans to attend school and ride there this fall. It will be his first experience with an actual team and coaching staff.
Currently, he has passed on a couple of rodeo opportunities the last two weekends. “I’m kinda resting right now, trying to heal up a bit,” White said. He has three upcoming rodeos over the weekend of Aug. 19-21, and then it’s on to Cody for school and more rodeo.
White’s grandmother said that Cody caught the rodeo bug early in life, mutton-busting at the Methow Valley Memorial Day and Labor Day Rodeo from the early elementary school days.
“He and Tanner [Cody’s older brother] were the only ones who would stay on for the entire ride. He’s been involved with rodeo ever since,” Suellen White said.
Speaking before his trip to Nationals in mid-July, White described how he has hooked up with several peers to share driving between events. “I started out in Davenport [Washington] on a Friday where we had an event on Friday night. Then it was on to Basin City for Saturday, and we ended up in Glenwood on Sunday,” he said.
“We carpool up, sleep in campers or cars, and spend time talking and coaching each other,” he said. “It’s a lot of travel, fun, and we learn from each other.”
White has an older model Ford pickup truck and camper he uses to get around to rodeos most of the time. The events provide the animals and much of the equipment, so mostly the participants just have to get to the arena.
“We meet up as a group and go traveling,” White said. “We know people from all over the state, and so we usually have a place to stay each night.”
His days while not on the circuit start somewhere around 4 a.m. helping his father, Tom, with the family logging business and end with his head hitting the pillow maybe as late as 8 p.m. He doesn’t have much time for anything else during the summer except to work, eat, sleep and rodeo on the weekends.
As for the future, it’s likely that White will keep finding ways to make things happen.