Kansas FFA Blog

The Lasting Impact and Legacy of a True Champion

I don’t know about you, but if you are anything like me you have your favorite tunes. I love to jam out any chance I can. I have been instructed to turn my music down more than a few times. I love country music and although I cannot play an instrument, or sing any pleasant sound, I still like to rock out. Most of my favorite songs come from what has commonly been referred to as “Red Dirt” music. It is mostly bands from Texas and Oklahoma that are not commonly played on our local radio stations. One of these songs is by Aaron Watson and it is titled “July in Cheyenne.” It is a tribute song to the late Lane Frost. Lane Frost was a legendary bull rider whose life was portrayed in the infamous movie 8 Seconds. The movie shows a glimpse of the life that he lived and it shows some of his greatness. Take a minute to understand some of the reasons why this incredible cowboy was able to make such an impact on so many.

Lane Frost began riding at a young age. He knew that he didn’t just want to be a cowboy, but a rodeo cowboy. He started riding dairy calves on the family ranch around the age of 5. From there his passion flourished and he began his quest to achieve what every rodeo cowboy aspires to be, a World Champion. While he experienced success in nearly every event of rodeo he wanted to be a bull rider. Lane was about five foot eleven inches in height, which is relatively tall for a bull rider. But, his hard work helped him make it to the top of the ranks quickly as he won high school rodeos all over the country. His career continued to take off as he was named 1983 Rookie of the Year for the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). He and his close friends Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert, continued down the rodeo trail for the next few years qualifying for the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) multiple times. Eventually in 1987, Lane finally achieved his goal of becoming a World Champion Bull Rider. He continued to be a successful rider and cowboy. In 1989, he was once again on track to another successful season when on July 30th his life was cut short after an accident following his dismount.

As you can see Lane lived what many would say a “successful” life. Considering he only lived to twenty-five years old, it is impressive that he could accomplish so much. Rodeo has existed for many years, and there have been many world champions. The NFR has existed since 1958 and has continually crowned w

orld champions in each of rodeos 7 primary events every year. That said we now must evaluate why this cowboy was so special as to have songs and movies created in tribute to him and why he is one of the most legendary and well-known cowboys to this day. I truly believe it is because there is more to his story than his accomplishments in the arena. Those that were closest to him would lead you to believing that he was not just a rodeo champion, but a champion at life. Lane was genuine and sincere. These are qualities that many of the leaders we look up to in history, and in our lives, possess.

When Lane was young and starting to ride competitively he twice got the opportunity to meet his bull riding hero, 8 Time World Champion Donnie Gay. When young Lane went back behind the chutes to meet his hero he was disappointed and hurt by his encounter. What was expected to be a dream come true became a nightmare as Lane witnessed his hero wearing tennis shoes, smoking a cigarette, and said he didn’t have time for him. The other time they met Lane was about to ride and asked him for advice only to be told he had drawn a bull too difficult for him to ride. These two instances made a significant impact on Lane as it taught him the importance of being genuine. As a result, Lane always wore cowboy boots and wrangler jeans with long sleeved shirts, the way he believed cowboys should dress. He also would hang around to sign every autograph. Fellow cowboy and close friend Jim Sharp would say “He was always smiling. When we were signing autographs, he would stay until the last kid. He enjoyed everybody. He was there for everybody and it wasn’t just an act. He’d set and talk to a guy and get to know him.”

That sincerity carried over when he met a 12-year-old J.W. Hart who aspired to be like Lane and was riding in a youth rodeo in San A

ntonio, Texas. He was the only boy in the steer riding not from Texas and as a result had been outcast by the others all week. They were waiting in a line when someone smacked him on the chest from behind when he turned around it was his hero Lane Frost standing there smiling. J.W. had been to Lanes riding school the year before and Lane remembered his name and later helped him in the chute as he prepared to ride. Eventually J.W. Hart did achieve his dreams and like Lane also became a World Champion Bull Rider. He also inspired another young boy he met at age 11 named Mike White who also was encouraged from meeting Lan and too became a World Champion.

Genuine and sincere, those are two of the many qualities that our cowboy had. Lane was truly a champion, and he carried that with a charisma that few have ever before or since have possessed. If we take these qualities and truly apply them to our lives we too will be able to bring out the best in those around us. We will be able to create an impact. Perhaps even a lasting one. To this day people that knew Lane can still tell you about how he impacted them. Lane has helped to inspire many to follow in his steps. Every day we have that opportunity to lead those around us andto encourage them to grow and aspire to achieve more. Lane Frost was able to leave a legacy that has, and will continue to impact people for years. He built those around him up. Now it is time for all of us to create our impact and build the legacy that we will leave behind, in our homes, our chapters, and our world.

Living to serve,

Quentin Umphenour,
State Treasurer

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