story by Skylar Wright Lerin Thomas, 21, has her eyes set on the bright lights of Las Vegas to sing the National Anthem during the […]
ProFile: Alex Phelps
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Alex Phelps – Bravane Shandon Alexander Phelps – is the National Student President of the NIRA. “It is voted on by the board,” said the 22-year-old from Ulysses, Kansas. “I think it’s a good opportunity for me to be part of something larger than me so I can go and promote college rodeo.” Alex recognizes that college rodeo is a stepping stone to the PRCA. “College rodeo has been good to me and I’ve enjoyed my time so far.” His goal as both National President and Central Plains Regional Director is to help educate elementary school kids about rodeo. “One of our jobs as regional directors is to talk to third and fourth graders – it was funded by a grant under Western Heritage Program.” Alex also received the 2016 Walt Garrison Scholarship Award, honoring one student director a year.
Alex’s mom passed away when he was 8 and he and his brother and sister were raised by his grandparents, Don and Peggy Phelps. “My grandpa farmed and worked in feed yards and he used to rodeo and rope and I’ve roped since I was little. Team roping is what I’ve done the longest, but I started roping calves when I was in junior high, added steer wrestling in high school.” Alex stepped in front of his first bull when he was in seventh grade. “I tried riding a bull, but it didn’t go my way and Wacey Munsell is a close family friend, so he asked me if I wanted to start fighting bulls and I did.” Alex has cattle sense from growing up doing real cowboy work for his neighbors. He also got to attend Rex Dunn’s last school. He watches videos and studies the action and timing. Now he fights bulls at six of the college rodeos and worked 8 pro rodeos last year. None of what he has accomplished would be possible without the help and support of his family. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
He competes in all three events at the college rodeos, making time management a priority; especially when he’s up in the short round. “There’s only one event between team roping and bull riding, so it’s hard to get the horse taken care of and hustle around to get changed.” As the Regional Director, he is also responsible for the banners at every rodeo. “I’m the first one there and the last to leave. I’m there to hang the banners and take them down. Time is money – that’s what they say in rodeo production.”
He spends five hours a day in the practice pen, working on his events. “We rope a lot, and that’s one thing I try to stay sharp on. But we chute dog a lot too.” He works on consistency in all of his events. “I do my best to have a short memory, so if I have a bad day, I work on that the next day, and then I go from there.” He is heading towards a degree in marketing and loves his classes. “My plan is to get my degrees and have that as a backup plan. I want to rodeo, fight bulls, and auctioneer and see if I can make that work. I’ve sold everything from horses to pigs to tack.”
Alex recently lost his little sister and has put life in perspective. “Life is short, you can’t take anything for granted and you need to tell the ones you love that you love them. Be kind to one another because you don’t know what the other person is going through. Things can change in an instant, so be happy and let others know that you love them.”