SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Brady Sims couldn’t eat for three days after getting stomped on last week in Nashville, Tennessee, by Shanghai Heat in the second round of the Jack Daniel’s Invitational.
The rookie-of-the-year contender’s left ear had been ripped open, while his jaw had felt the wrath of a hoof. If he had been able to open his mouth, it would have looked like he had eaten a softball.
It surely looked as if he took a blistering fastball to the face by the time he left Bridgestone Arena.
The easy and understandable decision for Sims this week would have been to doctor out of the PFIWestern.com Invitational, which continues tonight at JQH Arena with Round 2. However, the Holt, Missouri, cowboy knew he had a core contingent of family and friends planning on making the 200-mile trip south to the Missouri State University campus.
“On Monday, I was just like, ‘No, there is no way I am riding this weekend.’ I felt terrible,” Sims said. “I couldn’t eat anything and my face kept getting bigger on my left side. But then I was like, ‘No, this is your home state event. You just can’t turn out that easy.’”
After originally being told by two different doctors that his jaw was not dislocated, Sims had dentist Curtis Alexander, his childhood friend Kyle’s father, look at his jaw and take X-rays. Curtis determined Sims had suffered a slight dislocation of his jaw.
On Tuesday, Sims visited a chiropractor, who put her fingers on the inside of his mouth to help massage the knots and muscles along his jawline.
“I couldn’t open my mouth to drink out of a straw, to drink out of a glass, or take a bite,” Sims said. “I knew there was something wrong. She stuck her finger down into my jaw bone on the inside of my mouth and pushed as hard she could on those knots. My toes were curling.”
The process was done three times in five-minute intervals, and it left the bull rider – ranked 20th in the world standings – wondering if the short-term pain would help him rid himself of any long-term discomfort.
Sure enough, he got home and began to attempt to eat something when his jaw finally popped.
“It sounded like a dang 22 went off,” he said. “It was the worst pain I ever had for about 15 seconds. After that 15 seconds, it didn’t hurt and I could open my mouth. Everything was so much better right then.”
He surprised his mom, Jocelyn, when he told her that he even underwent an acupuncture treatment on his jaw. Brady has always been pretty afraid of needles, she said.
All of it was worth it though for the ovation he received on Friday night during rider introductions.
“Oh man, it is indescribable,” Brady said. “Honestly, whenever they do that, you have so many butterflies inside you. No matter how hard you tell yourself to be cool and act like it doesn’t get to you, it gets to you.”
Even Jocelyn felt the extra jolt of excitement when she heard the JQH Arena turn loose in support of her son.
“Oh, I love it,” she said with a big grin. “I love it. Yes! Yes! You want to just stand up and say, ‘That is my kid.’”
Joining Jocelyn in the stands was Brady’s father, Reid, Brady’s sister, Jackie York and her husband, Jesse, as well as their daughter Kimber. Kyle also made the trip.
Brady even gave Kimber a nice little parade around the arena dirt following the first-round to the thrill of the young bull riding fan.
Jocelyn and Reid are accustomed to traveling to any of their son’s bull ridings within a five- or six-hour radius of their Holt home. Jocelyn has transformed Brady’s room into a commemoration of all of his bull riding accolades he has collected since competing in his first mutton busting when he was in kindergarten.
Along with being a state champion in junior rodeo, Brady went on to win Missouri state titles during his freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school. He was 15 at the time of his first state title.
Brady’s favorite buckle in his childhood room is the one he received for winning the 2012 Touring Pro Division event in Pendleton, Oregon.
Reid, who has been coaching young athletes – primarily in football and baseball – since he was 17 years old, said Brady was always an athletic kid. Admitting he has a partial fatherly bias, he added that Brady could have probably played college football if he had decided to stick with it instead of bull riding.
Even though Reid was never a bull rider, he does come from a somewhat Western background after growing up around horses in the 1960s in Missouri.
“I wasn’t raised so much around rodeo, but (my family) always had horses and we were involved in horse shows,” Reid said. “We were pretty heavy in 4H, and we traveled around the state doing that like we now travel around doing the rodeos.”
Reid understands that because he never was a bull rider, it may be hard for him to act as an expert coach for Brady, but he does try to transfer over the mental fortitude aspect that is so necessary in every sport.
“You’ve got to learn to not accept failure, but realize you are going to fail,” Reid said. “You are not successful 100 percent of the time. Learn from what it was that caused you to fail and improve on it, make it better and be successful.”
When you listen to Brady talk, you can hear an echo of Reid in the way he handles adversity in bull riding. Immediately after bucking off his re-ride bull (Your Next) in Round 1 on Friday night, Brady was looking forward to his Round 2 matchup against Buck Wild.
That kind of mentality has helped him not worry too much about his struggles in the championship round this year, where he is 1-for-9. He has bucked off Superfreak, Shepherd Hills Tested and Long John in the championship round at the last three Built Ford Tough Series events, but is 5-for-7 against long-round bulls since the BFTS second half resumed.
It is a learning process, he said, and Brady is confident that over time he will get used to facing the Top 15 bulls in the world on a weekly basis.
“It is no secret that short rounds are my problem,” he said. “I figure the more I get into the short round and the more I get on bulls of that caliber, sooner or later you are going to catch on and you are going to be able to ride him.”
Brady’s family was in attendance when he made his 2014 BFTS debut in March in front of a group of supporters in St. Louis. They were there the following week in Kansas City, Missouri, and are completing the Missouri BFTS trifecta this weekend.
“The Show Me State” has always treated him well. He placed ninth in St. Louis and eighth in Kansas City, and Brady would love to reward his family’s support with his first career BFTS win.
“Wherever there was a rodeo or a bull riding school, they were the first ones to say, ‘Alright, let’s go. We have to get going,’” Brady said. “They have always supported me and been behind me and knew I was going to do good things.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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