By: Keith Ryan Cartwright June 21, 2014@ 04:00:00 PM
TERRELL, Texas – More than 10 years after winning his second world title, Chris Shivers said he focused on his own career.
He was arguably a once-in-a-generation bull rider.
Shivers won two world titles – 2000 and 2003 – and recorded more 90-point rides than anyone else in the 20-year history of the PBR (94), along with being the first man to earn $1 million, $2 million and $3 million – among his countless accolades.
But that was then and this is now.
For the past three years, Shivers has been focused on the future success of the PBR.
While most bull riding fans are enamored listing to the Jonesville, Louisiana, native recall stories of past gold-buckle seasons, the 35-year-old is now as focused on the future as he once was on his own career. Shivers is in his third season of working with kids, who are anywhere from four-to-10 years away from turning pro, as part of the Chris Shivers Mini Bull Riders Tour.
“The future’s where it’s at,” Shivers said. “It’s just like these gold buckles, yeah, they were nice while we were winning them, but that’s history. We’re looking ahead.”
Shivers said he recently attended a high school rodeo in his home state of Louisiana, where there were only five bull riders entered in the event.
Fifteen to 20 years ago, he said, there would have been 20 or more.
“We need to recruit,” he said.
That’s where the MBR comes into play.
According to Shivers, there are twice as many kids competing at MBR events as there were just three years ago.
In fact, Shivers was with organizers last month when the books opened for the Guilherme Marchi Invitational.
“It took about 15 minutes,” recalled Shivers, who said 60 kids in two age divisions from eight-to-14 years old called in to enter themselves. Not only are they learning to ride bulls, but also learning a valuable lesson regarding responsibility and accountability by entering themselves.
“It means you’re doing something right,” he added, “and it means they like what we have going on.”
Among the 60 kids competing at Marchi’s recent event was a trio of boys, whose fathers all won those much-talked about gold buckles.
Marchi’s 4-year old son J.G. entered the younger division and was paired up with a young steer that sort of loped across the arena, while Brand Shivers and Logan White were entered in the older division.
“Me and Mike (White) used to travel around and I never thought 12 years later, we’d have boys getting on bulls,” Shivers said, “and we’re taking them and sitting in the stands or roping bulls. It’s something I didn’t imagine would happen, but it’s actually a great time.”
In fact, during an interview with Cord McCoy for his RFD-TV series “The Ride,” Logan referred to Brand as his traveling partner.
The elder Shivers chuckled.
“Man, they’ve been watching too much TV already,” Shivers said. “That’s a good thing. If (Brand) had to travel with anybody, (Logan) would be a good person to do it with.”
“They already have their world titles and it’s cool and really inspirational for the kids to be here,” McCoy said. “It’s not asking too much to give back.”
Like Shivers, White has been focused on the future of the sport, as well.
White held a bull riding school in Pueblo, Colorado, prior to an ABBI-sanctioned Touring Pro Division event last month.
According to White, who won a PRCA title the year before he made his Built Ford Tough Series debut in 2000, there was one particular 18-year-old who stood out.
As a matter of fact, he not only stood out among the kids taking part in that particular clinic, but he also stood out enough that for the first time ever, White invited the youngster to come live with his family in DeKalb, Texas, for a month.
White said he could tell bull riding was something he wanted to do and could sense his seriousness, but he hadn’t had any guidance.
Despite only knowing his first name – Clay – and not know any personal info, White thought the youngster simply needed an opportunity – somebody like White to care and lend a helping hand.
“This kid, he impressed so much,” White said. “I’m telling you right now, he’ll be in the Top 10 of the PBR—just give him three years, maybe four.”
White later added, “I saw what it meant to him. So many of these kids, they just go to be there. No, I don’t know his last name, but it doesn’t matter. It’s fun to help somebody that’s that serious about it. It’s actually an honor for me to be able to help somebody that has that much talent.”
White said he told Clay, who couldn’t believe the offer, that they would both work on White’s ranch during the day, and in exchange, learn the proper technique and fundamentals of bull riding in the evening.
White and Shivers both agreed that an era of riders like the one they were once part of – along with Justin McBride, Ross Coleman – won’t be coming along anytime soon, if ever, if they don’t personally reach out and work to help the next generation.
When they rode, it wasn’t simply about being a professional bull rider.
That was a given.
It was about winning gold buckles.
“Nowadays, guys are happy to be there, and don’t have that drive to be a World Champion,” said White, who admitted to feeling upset when he sees a lack of effort.
Shivers, who is as humble today as he was throughout his career, name-checked White and Marchi as heroes for the young kids. McCoy recalled reading a story during Reese Cates’ rookie year in which he saw a photo of an 8-year-old Cates with his hero – McBride.
“Those are memorable moments,” said McCoy, who looked around the MBR event with three former World Champions all working with 60 hopefuls and added, “there are moments like that that are going to be made here.”
When asked about it later that same evening, Shivers agreed.
The soft-spoken two-time World Champion noted that the MBR finals are held in Las Vegas, during the week of the World Finals, and that the kids who qualify “can make their dreams come true right here.”
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