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Rodeo a family affair





With approximately half a dozen family members competing, Mary Williams of Little River follows several rodeo teams.

The chilly weather didn't keep Williams from Doug Philip Arena on Friday night to watch twin grandsons Cody and Ty Hamm -- and Ty's wife, Noell -- compete in the 47th annual National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Spring Rodeo at Fort Hays State University.

The three are members of the Fort Scott Community College rodeo team, and Williams has watched them compete since the twins were in junior high school.

Williams, along with some of the Fort Scott team, are staying with her granddaughter, Wendy Williams, an FHSU junior.

Wendy Williams said one of her cousins called her at midnight Thursday and asked her to pick them up at the rodeo grounds.

"Right now at my apartment," Wendy Williams said, "there are eight of them staying with me in a two-bedroom" (apartment).

"Plus grandma," Mary Williams said. "We've got air mattresses set up."

Wendy Williams also used to compete in barrel racing, getting her start as a child in mutton busting but now enjoys watching her family compete.

Another of Mary Williams' grandsons and the twins' brother, Lane Hamm, also competed this weekend at the FFA High School Rodeo in Hill City.

Wendy Williams' sister and her husband make it an even half dozen of Mary Williams' grandchildren and spouses competing.

"When they were in high school, you got to know the high school team," Mary Williams said. "When they're in college, you get to know them."

She's even followed the Hamms to the national competition in Wyoming.

Seeing "all these campers and horse trailers, I was shocked."

Before the rodeo action got started, announcer Travis Schauda paid tribute to Garry "Doc" Brower, Block and Bridle Club and Rodeo Club adviser for more than 30 years. Brower died last year.

"I miss him every day," Bronc Rumford, FHSU rodeo coach, said earlier in the week.

"He's still a big part of the Rodeo Club. Because of the scholarship (in his name), he will always be a big part of it."

A new crow's nest atop the chutes will be named in Brower's honor and is expected to be completed by next year, Schauda said.

A cowboy church service, hosted by Dale Hirschman, is at 10 a.m. today in the arena, followed by the final rodeo performance at 1 p.m.