‘Rodeo was her life’
Upon entering the family room of the Hendrix’s country home, one cannot miss the championship saddles Rachel Hendrix won during her short career in youth and high school rodeo.
Rachel’s father, Clay, proudly pointed to an elevated horse-shoe configured ledge that watches over the foyer and is lined with numerous saddles, all meticulously placed together, side by side. Below near the entrance on a stand is a saddle the 18-year-old Fallon teen won years ago in a Little Britches contest.
“This was like winning a state high school rodeo championship,” said Clay Hendrix, gesturing with his right palm extended toward the saddle. “She accomplished a lot in her rodeo career.”
Both Clay and his wife, Annette, sat together, reminiscing about Rachel and her accomplishments both in the classroom and arena.
“Academics … I am most proud of that,” said Annette Hendrix, her voice becoming choked up with emotion. “Generally speaking, rodeo kids don’t take school seriously.”
Rachel Hendrix, though, became as competitive in the classroom as she did in rodeo. She garnered enough scholarships to cover this year’s tuition and expenses at Southern Utah University except for $24. As a high school student, she took her books and studied every night for several hours and finished her four years at CCHS with a grade point average higher than 4.0. Her study habits followed her to Utah.
At SUU, Hendrix had a successful first semester, receiving all A’s except for a C in math.
“She was so proud of that,” Annette Hendrix said.
“That’s another talent she got from me,” responded Clay Hendrix. “The inability to do math.”
Both Annette and Clay said Rachel struggled with math but put in 110 percent. Likewise, when she took Advanced Placement statistics in high school, Clay Hendrix said his daughter knew what she had to do to receive good grades.
Annette Hendrix had her cellphone, showing the screen where she received Rachel’s last text message Saturday. As she began reading the text, tears trickled down her cheek.
Clay Hendrix arose, walked over to a table and returned with newspaper clippings written about Rachel’s rodeo seasons. During the past two school board meetings, Hendrix said fellow trustees Carmen Schank and Nona McFarlane left the clippings at his chair. He then spread out the articles on a coffee table.
“It’s coincidental I received these … articles about my daughter during the last two meetings,” Clay Hendrix said, standing almost motionless. “Now, we’re all going through a transitional period.”
And although sibling rivalry existed between the two younger brothers and Rachel, both Annette and Clay Hendrix said any intense feelings were left in the arena.
They said Caleb was probably the closest to Rachel, but Cord and Rachel usually won more money competing together.
Clay Hendrix, though, reflected on his invaluable father-daughter time and how Rachel wanted to be a top rodeo performer. In going to rodeo competitions, the Hendrixs traveled as a family with Clay acting as junior coach, bus driver and personal trainer. Clay Hendrix turned, and then looked out his north window at the arena.
“During the last 10 years I spent more time with Rachel out in the arena practicing on a daily basis,” he said.
Annette Hendrix remembered one session when Rachel was refining her roping techniques from her father.
“I was getting dinner, and she bolted through door and went ‘yes,’” Annette Hendrix said, simulating Rachel making a fist with her right hand and jerking her forearm downward.
“Did you see me rope that calf,” Rachel told her mother.
On many occasions, Annette Hendrix said Rachel told her she loved being home with her father, yet she wished he could have gone to SUU with her to be her roping coach.
“The only person she wanted to rope with was her dad,” Annette Hendrix said, trying to hold back more tears.
She paused for a moment to gather her thoughts.”
That’s the good thing about rodeo. You spend a lot of a quality time with your kids,” she explained. “Driving along, kids open up and begin chatting. They tell you their feelings and fears in life. I feel blessed to have had those ‘ah ha’ moments.”