Posted 3:39 PM 11/17/2011 : Rodeo Star has Pueblo roots
You won't find many professional athletes who string fences on the family farm, but that's the way it is in professional rodeo. There's no draft, no signing bonuses, and the farm system is literally a farm system.
"It's not the easiest sport on your body," explains professional bareback rider and County High School graduate Casey Colletti. "There's a lot of stuff that goes wrong elbow, wrist shoulder, groin knees everything."
Though he's quite humble about it, Colletti is ranked among the top 10 bareback riders in the world. He's competing in the Superbowl of rodeos, the National Finals Rodeo finals December 1-10 in Las Vegas.
"Seems unreal until I get out there on top the hill in Vegas and I see it, then it might become real."
Colletti has been riding for the past decade, starting when he was 16. His first place finish at this year's Cheyenne Frontier Days netted him big prize money and put him on a course for national competition.
"It's taken 10 years of riding to get to that point I guess and this year everything just clicked and worked."
That journey wasn't easy. Colletti competed in around 100 rodeos during a four months span that stretched across dozens of western states. He put over 58,000 miles on his car and more than once competed in 2 different rodeos in the same day.
All of that hard work is paying off. Colletti has been named the 2011 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Mountain States Circuit Champion. The saddles and belt buckles he's received as awards have attracted attention among rodeo magazines. Casey hopes it will also attract the attention of some sponsors.
"At this point right now, I can't go any higher than NFR, it's just Superbowl year after year is all."
Until then, there's a fence to be strung.
"Somebody's gotta do it and Dad's at work, so I guess I'm next man on the totem pole."