PUEBLO, Colo. – Many believe one of the best things an athlete can do is surround himself with winners.
Being around those that strive for excellence, only naturally pushes one to elevate his or her own game to the level of their closest friends or teammates.
For Brady Sims, two of his buddies pushing him to strive for excellence in 2016 are well over 1,500 pounds.
When Sims returned home to the D&H Cattle Company ranch following the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals in October, it was hard to not already start thinking about the 2016 season following an admitted “poor” second year on the BFTS.
Every day he would head outside to help H.D. Page move cattle or handle various tasks on the ranch and he would see 2015 World Champion Bull Long John and 2015 ABBI Classic Bull Bruiser basking in their glory.
Granted, they can’t talk to Sims, but it was hard to not look at either bovine athlete and not see greatness.
“Oh yeah, for dang sure,” Sims replied when asked if Bruiser and Long John motivate him. “Every day you strive to be a champion. Then whenever you are around people like H, that are nothing but champions in every aspect of the game, it makes you kind of want to step up and make it happen.”
Sims credits Page for helping him remain grounded in a tumultuous season that concluded with a 31st finish in the world standings.
Even though he finished seven spots lower in the standings, the 22-year-old did set new career highs in qualified rides (22) and competed in every BFTS regular-season event (27) for the first time.
“Honestly, every time I have been struggling or been doing something that has been a little off with my technique he can tell me,” Sims said. “Over the summer, whenever I was riding, I was cranking down and leaning into my hand when they were going left, but then when they jumped out going straight or right I was off anyways and he told me to sit straight up. He said, ‘Ride them front to back, don’t worry about them left to right.’
“If I slack off or I am getting lazy, he isn’t afraid to tell me.”
Page said earlier this season, “I have seen him be high 80s in the practice pen and I will see him on TV at the event the same weekend and fall off one he could have rode blindfolded in the practice pen. I don’t know if it is growing pains or what. All of the money on the line, these guys tighten up and they put pressure on themselves to do good, and they should just concentrate on just riding and having fun riding and let the money come as they may.”
The small adjustment helped Sims have one of his better stretches of this past season with two ninth-place finishes (Tulsa and Thackerville, Oklahoma) and a 12th-place showing in his hometown event in Springfield, Missouri.
Sims bucked off in all three events’ championship rounds.
The championship round became Sims kryptonite in 2015.
He qualified for 11 championship rounds and bucked off in every single one.
According to ProBullstats.com, Sims is the only rider to have qualified for 10 championship rounds this season to not have at least one qualified ride in the final round of a BFTS event.
“I was terribly disappointed with the season,” Sims said. “I was in 11 short rounds and didn’t ride in a single one of them. If I would have rode three or four of them, I would be from 31st to 15th.”
Sims, who is 1-for-20 in his career in the championship round, nearly won his first BFTS event in Sacramento, California, in January before bucking off Mr. Bull in 5.38 seconds in the championship round.
A qualified ride would have won him the event seeing as not a single rider was able to convert in the final round.
“You can’t really try to make it happen,” Sims said. “You can do everything you want. You can work out, you can get on practice bulls, but at the end of the day you have to go in there just like any other bull and kind of let it happen. That is my biggest problem. I get on the short-rounder’s and I start thinking too much and trying too hard. I am going 98 and they are only going 90. I will make stupid mistakes I know I shouldn’t be making, but I get so excited because I am in there. Next thing you know I am falling off.”
Page believes Sims can turn the corner in time.
“He rides good,” Page said. “He is not where he is at by accident. He is on tour because he rode good in the past. He tries hard. He will get there. There is no doubt in my mind.”
If there is one consolation, Sims knows he has what it takes to make it to the championship round and struggling in that round is much better than failing to make it to the round at all.
“With the short rounds, my problem isn’t making it into the short rounds,” he added. “That also gives me a whole lot of confidence too for this year.”
Sims, who is using the offseason to rest his hips, which were giving him issues toward the end of the season, already knows two bulls he hopes to get a shot at during championship rounds next season.
“I want them both, especially Bruiser,” Sims said. “I have always wanted my chance at Bruiser and I figure this year he will be in the short rounds every time. I wouldn’t turn down Long John either. You will be 93-96 points on either one of them. I figure I might as well tie my hand in on them.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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