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Rodeo Schools Help Fund Scholarships

—By Chaney Latham on 09/23/2011 Chancy Harrington, left, examines Callie Schafer's goat tying string. Schafer, a member of the OPSU Rodeo team, is a junior biology major from Yoder, Wyo.—Kelly Darnell photoChancy Harrington, left, examines Callie Schafer's goat tying string. Schafer, a member of the OPSU Rodeo team, is a junior biology major from Yoder, Wyo.—Kelly Darnell photo Goodwell, Okla.

—Justin Harrington, younger brother of OPSU rodeo team member alum, Chancy Harrington and current Oklahoma Panhandle State Rodeo team members Hannah and Frankie Harrington, was remembered and honored at the Justin Harrington Memorial Goat Tying School this past weekend. The 4-year old cowboy drowned in an irrigation ditch near his Holly, Colorado home in 2005, when Chancy was just a freshman.

Chancy and Kelly Koeppen returned to their alma mater to share their goat tying skills. Both women competed for the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Rodeo team and both qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in that event while at OPSU.

The school went really well, and many young women participated and worked hard the whole weekend. "I learned a lot about being in the right mindset at a rodeo and not getting caught in a speed trap during a run," OPSU sophomore Anne Melsaether stated.

Goat tying takes great coordination as well as good horsemanship, with the ability to get off a horse at full speed going between 20-25 miles per hour. The cowgirl must have great balance as well as quick feet and quick hands. Most of the students were at the same level as far as tying goes, which made it a lot easier for the teachers. "We mainly focused on attitude and practicing right, as well as just helping each other out and preparing for the season," said instructor Chancy Harrington. "The school went good, and the girls did really well. I am excited for them, and looking forward to this season," she concluded.

Rodeo schools like these help fund two scholarships, set up in memory of two young cowboys. One scholarship memorializes young Justin with the Justin Harrington Memorial Scholarship, and the other one for a talented young hand by the name of Mike Hillman from Roswell, New Mexico. Mike had planned to compete at OPSU, but passed away at the age of 18 before getting that opportunity. He was a young cowboy with much potential who competed on both ends of the arena in the tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, and team roping, and in fact, had just won his first professional rodeo in Cave Creek, Ariz. when he and traveling companion Jesse Andrus died from carbon monoxide poisoning from the generator in their camper. A heartbreaking tragedy for him, his family, all his loved ones, and the sport of rodeo itself, but his memory will live on here at OPSU through the Mike Hillman Memorial Rodeo Scholarship.

Two other scholarships, the Rodeo Alumni Scholarship and the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo Scholarship, make it possible for more young cowboys and cowgirls to compete at the collegiate level at Oklahoma Panhandle State University while obtaining a college degree. Anyone may donate to any of these scholarships through the Panhandle State Foundation. For more information, contact them at 580-349-1392 or email All support is greatly appreciated.