By: Justin Felisko
November 16, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Reese Cates’ mind is “in a different place” then it has been in the past for multiple reasons, and Cates is ready to keep on winning and make his way back to the PBR’s illustrious Built Ford Tough Series.
Cates began his 2017 season by winning the Real Time Pain Relief Tour’s Frontier Communications Invitational in Ontario, California, last weekend by going 2-for-2, and you can bet Cates was fired up even before he rode Gas Pedal for an event-winning 89 points.
One week earlier, Cates was sitting at home watching Cooper Davis win the 2016 World Championship and his good buddy Chase Outlaw, who actually rode Gas Pedal to win the 2016 Velocity Tour championship, cap off a fantastic 2016 season with his fifth consecutive trip to the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“There are so many things that ultimately inspire your own motivation and everybody has something,” Cates said. “For some guys it is their kids, for other guys it may be something else. What is inspiring me is I am getting toward the backside of my career. Sitting at home watching the Finals and my friends do so well will light a fire under your butt like you have never seen before.”
Cates is expected to compete at this Friday and Saturday’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in New Town, North Dakota.
The 27-year-old recently married his wife, Desirae, the week before the World Finals and the couple is expecting their first child at the end of March.
“(Marriage) changes you in a lot of different ways,” Reese said. “I think it can change you for the good or for the bad, it depends on the woman you marry. The woman you choose to have in your life can definitely inspire and motivate you to be better.”
The El Dorado, Arkansas, bull rider recalled a conversation he had with fellow bull rider Brant Atwood prior to Ontario. Atwood and his wife, Kaci, welcomed their baby boy, Kesler Quade, to the world on Nov. 10.
“I will definitely admit it hasn’t really sunk in as much for me because my kid is not here,” Cates said. “Brant sent me a message that says, ‘It is definitely a life-changer. You can’t explain it. I can’t explain it to you. It is just something you will have to feel when it happens.’
“It is something I am looking forward to.”
Cates doesn’t view the changes in his personal life as added pressure or anything of that matter when it comes to his bull riding career.
It is rather motivation to do well for his family and to be a good example. Cates referenced Davis’ pride in winning a World Championship in front of his own son, Mackston.
“The thing about having a kid is not necessarily the demand to do well as far as the finances or anything like that is concerned, but I think the desire to do well increases because you want to set a good example,” Cates said. “I think that is the case for every one of us. We spend money and we buy a lot of material things, but at the end of the day your words don’t really hold any meaning if you haven’t lived that out yourself. That is something that is the most important thing in someone’s life – practice what you preach. You can’t preach it to somebody to give it their all and to be completely dedicated if you are not going to do it yourself.”
The newlyweds were supposed to have their honeymoon in Las Vegas, but that was before Cates realized he would not be qualifying for the World Finals for a fifth time.
“Once I didn’t make the PBR Finals, we had to change our plans around a little bit,” he said. “We had the opportunity to come out here and spend a few days hanging out and enjoying each other’s company and seeing some of the beautiful country here in California.”
Cates concluded 2016 51st in the world standings after struggling for the majority of the season. He rode a career-low 20.27 percent of his bulls at all levels of PBR competition and was only 3-for-36 in 15 BFTS events.
It was a frustrating regression for Cates, who had his best finish (17th in the world standings) since his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign despite tearing his biceps.
“I hate to blame it on the bicep, but it was something I could blame it on,” Cates admitted. “If I was having a lack of success, it was something very easy for me to blame because it did hurt and it did bother me. But if I was riding correct, it doesn’t bother me at all. I made up my mind this year that if I was healthy enough to show up and be at an event then I was not going to allow any physical condition to be an excuse for me because I made a decision on whatever day it was that week to go to that particular event.
“Sore or not, if you show up, you should be expecting yourself to win. There are no excuses if you don’t.”
Cates has a jumpstart at earning a spot on the Built Ford Tough Series when the season begins on Jan. 6 in New York thanks to his Ontario victory.
He has learned that as long as he rides correctly, and doesn’t get out of position, that his bicep shouldn’t be an issue in 2017.
“Not making the Finals and not having that guaranteed seat at the beginning of the year kind of pushes you into going to these events, but that is perfectly OK with me,” he said. “These are really good events and a really good place to go and grow your confidence and get heated up going into the new season.
“It is a new year and I am looking forward to it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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