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The Reno Rodeo Volunteers

The event never begins without the drill and flag team

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” They range in age from 14 to the mid-50s, and an evening performance at the Reno Rodeo never starts without them.

Meet the 60 women ” all volunteers ” who make up the drill and flag team.

It’s a labor of love, and has to be, because it’s a lot of work for no pay. The drill team practices twice a week all year around, while the flag team practices twice a week starting in April.

The competition has gotten so intense that Shannon Bohach, the chairwoman of the flag team and a former member of the flag/drill team, has brought in judges.

“You have to be 14 by the time you try out and we go from there,” Bohach said. “Some of the girls have ridden for 12 years. Once you make the team and ride three years on the same horse, you become a senior member which means you don’t have to try out.

“It’s all about scores. We have some 14 or 15-year-olds that can ride the pants off a 40-year-old woman. Some of our girls ride in shows and there are the little girls down the street that just trail ride.”

It’s the dream of most of the flag girls to eventually work their way up to the drill team.

Washoe Valley’s Sherrie Baker, 54, is a teacher at Pleasant Valley Elementary. She has realized her dream ” twice. She competed when she was in high school and into her second year of college. She took a break to raise a family, and returned to the squad.

Baker is the veteran of the group along with Sherry Davis, who suffered injuries prior to Monday night’s performance.

“I’m going to do it as long as I can,” Baker said. “I think they like having experience on the team; helping others out.

“The rodeo was a big thing when I was growing up. The association members are wonderful. I just love what it (the rodeo) represents.”

Baker, a native Nevadan, went to Reno High with Mike Lucke, who is the arena manager for the rodeo.

Bohach, who has been involved in a managerial role with the flag team since 2000, enjoys being on the ground compared to her time as a rider.

“You get to interact with the association people and you get to know the girls by name and by their horses,” she said.

Baker turned out to be a recruiter for the group, too. She brought one of her former students, JoJo Worthen, into the fold this year.

Worthen started riding when she was 8 and was in third grade. She was in Baker’s class in sixth grade. Baker started to invite her to go riding.

“Riding with Sherrie helped me get to where I could do this,” Worthen said. “I tried out. I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I hope I can do this forever.

“This is so much fun. Everybody gets along. Nobody gets jealous of anybody else. Horses are my life. I love them. I want to do this the rest of my life.”

She has a fan in Bohach.

“She’s so darling,” Bohach said. “She does whatever you need her to do. Her enthusiasm is just wonderful.”

Worthen said her goal is to make drill team, and she’d also like to become a barrel racer.

What’s funny about that is Worthen’s parents aren’t into horses.

“My parents don’t like horses,” she admitted. “They are not horse people. Either you are or you’re not.”

Worthen loves horses enough for her whole family.