Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

“Yee hah!”

That’s what a cowboy hollers when he rides a bucking horse, and a lot of little Heaven Sent cowboys and cowgirls probably yelled, “Yee hah!” in their sleep last night.

The young wranglers received at visit from a couple of “real live” cowboys at the day care center Tuesday afternoon.

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Josh Simmons, Troy University rodeo team coach, and Chris Graham, assistant coach, visited Heaven Sent and told the children about what college cowboys do and amazed them with their roping ability. As the little ones crowded closer and closer to the roping dummy – a hay bale steer — Simmons offered them a chance to ride a bucking bull.

Although the children were wide-eyed and grinning, at first, they were a little shy about riding the bucking bull. But after a couple of brave little cowpokes rode without incident, the others eagerly awaited their turns.

One after the other the children, were lifted on the “bull,” taught to wave their hand in the air like real cowboys do when they ride a bucking bull and yell, “Yee hah!”

Claudette Rogers, Heaven Sent director, said the children were excited to have “real live” cowboys visit them.

“We have theme weeks, and we’ve been learning about the Old West,” Rogers said. “All children know about cowboys so it’s been exciting for them to learn about cowboy life and learn cowboy songs. And, they have been very excited to see real cowboys.”

And the children couldn’t have been more excited if they’d had a visit by the ice cream truck.

“Little kids are always fun ,and we like to do things like this so they will learn more about ‘cowboys’ and rodeo,” Simmons said. “We like to promote rodeo any time that we can because we’re proud of our team and want people to know about it.”

Simmons was “hired on” as the Troy University Rodeo team coach in March 2008.

“I was a member of the original team in 2002,” he said. “I was a junior, and it was exciting for me to be a part of the team and exciting to come back as the team coach.”

Graham came to the university in 2006 and is in his second year of calf roping competition.

“We just got back from the college national finals in Casper, Wyoming,” Simmons said. “We are ranked the number 22 team in the country, and Ben Mayworth is ranked fourth nationally in calf roping. Ben is Troy University’s only individual national champion.”

Simmons said the outlook for the 2009-10 rodeo season is good, especially for the women.

“The women’s team should be contenders,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of juniors who are moving up and the team looks strong. We’re looking forward to a good season and good support from the community.”

The Heaven Sent children are looking forward to more rodeo in their lives. They will compete in a teddy bear roping event this week and, after the roping demonstrations by Simmons and Graham, they should be able to put the rope around those frisky teddies.

“They will compete in the barrel race on stick horses, and they’ll have to take off their boots, put them in a pile that we call ‘Boot Hill,’ and then find their own boots and put them back on,” Rogers said. “We’ll have a lot of games, and they get points for winning. The boy and girl that have the most points at the end of the week will be the Rodeo King and Queen.

“We have a lot of fun being cowboys and cowgirls.”