by ProRodeo.com | Oct 03, 2016
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Kyle Whitaker’s name has been synonymous with the Linderman Award for the past 20 years, and he just keeps adding more of them to his trophy case.
The 40-year-old cowboy from Chambers, Neb., captured the eighth Linderman Award of his career in 2016, which is now twice as many as any other cowboy. Whitaker first won the prestigious title in 1997.
“I didn’t know if I’d get eight of them or not, but I definitely didn’t think I’d still be winning the award at my age,” Whitaker said. “I didn’t have a plan for how long I would do three events, but I didn’t expect to still be riding saddle broncs at 40.”
Whitaker earned $37,556 during the 2016 rodeo season – $26,770 in steer wrestling; $6,115 in tie-down roping; and $4,671 in saddle bronc riding. He was the only cowboy to meet the difficult requirements in 2016 and gain eligibility for the award.
The Linderman Award recognizes excellence at both ends of the arena. To qualify, a cowboy must win at least $1,000 in each of three events, and those events must include at least one roughstock event and one timed event.
“Most guys today focus on one event, and that’s just the way our sport has evolved, but I like to stay true to my roots,” Whitaker said. “In my opinion, a true cowboy should work both ends of the arena.”
This is the third different time that Whitaker – who also won in 2015 – has claimed back-to-back Linderman Awards, as he also did so in 1997-98 and 2005-06.
Following him with four Linderman Awards are his father, Chip Whitaker, ProRodeo Hall of Famer Phil Lyne, a five-time world champion, and Trell Etbauer, who won three in a row from 2008-10, and then again in 2013.
“I think the Linderman Award means more to me than it does to most of the guys going down the road,” Whitaker said. “A lot of guys don’t even know about the award until they start their rodeo career, but I grew up wanting to win it. At rodeos, the announcers would always make a big deal of my dad winning it four times, so I knew the history of it, and it’s always been important to me.”
The Linderman Award is named for ProRodeo Hall of Famer Bill Linderman, who won six world championships: all-around (1950, 1953), bareback riding (1943), saddle bronc riding (1945, 1950) and steer wrestling (1950).
Courtesy of PRCA