LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER
Cindy Rosser Joins Father, Cotton, in ProRodeo Hall of Fame
By Neal Reid
Cindy Rosser was too busy to take the call of a lifetime.
The Yuba City, California, native was standing atop a gooseneck trailer, unloading yearling bucking bulls when her phone rang. She would have to call them back, she said.
Little did she know, but when she returned the call after the work was done, she’d learn she was joining her father, Cotton, as a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Cindy—whose iconic daddy entered the Hall in 1995—was elated with the news she would be just the second woman, after Florence Youree, elected in the WPRA Notables category.
“This is such a great honor,” Cindy said at the July 16 induction ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “I was just a young girl who wanted to ride horses and run barrels on every horse on the ranch. I am truly honored to be the second honoree from the WPRA following the great pioneer of women’s barrel racing, Florence Youree. She did so much for the sport.
“To all the honorees and their families, today we celebrate some of the best in ProRodeo. Congratulations to you all today, and thank you to the Hall of Fame and thank you to the WPRA for honoring me today.”
The same could easily be said for Cindy, who in 1954 was born into a family led by Cotton and Linda Rosser that would become legendary in the business. Raising livestock and putting on a great show was of the utmost importance to the Rossers, and Cindy was all in from the start.
“I guess you could say I was born into rodeo,” she said. “My parents instilled work and making a difference in our sport of rodeo better for the future generations and giving that paying spectator a great rodeo performance. The rodeo fans and the sponsors are the ones who pay the bills.”
Cindy joined the Girls Rodeo Association—the precursor to the WPRA—in 1969 and served on its Board of Directors for more than 20 years. The 1982 California Circuit barrel racing champion, Cindy has competed extensively in the sport and worked nearly every job in the business through the years.
In 1986, she was named PRCA Secretary of the Year, earned the Coca-Cola WPRA Woman of the Year honors in 1995 and served as rodeo secretary at the National Finals Rodeo in 1998. She also carried the American flag, trained horses for and produced and designed openings and sponsor flags at the NFR for a decade.
In addition, she served on the California Circuit Board of Directors for more than 25 years, helped her parents’ Flying U Rodeo Company gain acclaim and served as a member of the America Bucking Bull Inc. (ABBI) Board of Directors for several years. Cindy was secretary at the 2012 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, won the Lenora Reimers Heritage Award from the WPRA in 2015, the 2019 Tad Lucas Memorial Award from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City and joined her father as a winner of the PRCA’s Donita Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Following their lead
Cindy’s passion was fueled by a love for all things rodeo, and she admired the pioneering women who laid the groundwork for the GRA and WPRA.
“The GRA started with a group of ranch women in San Angelo, Texas, in 1948,” she said. “It is the oldest women’s sporting organization in the nation. Where can a 14-year-old girl from Clayton, New Mexico, on a feedlot horse win a record 10 world championships and become the first million-dollar cowgirl? Or the over $3 million cowgirl today, Sherry Cervi, raising and training her horse alongside her honoree dad, Mel Potter.
“It’s a sport where grandmothers can compete with girls less than half their age, make the NFR with a chance to win hundreds of thousands of dollars and Mary Burger winning the world championship at the age of 68. Now, that’s pretty cool in an organization.”
Cindy’s service to the WPRA as a Board member was at least partly inspired by her desire to seek out equality in the industry.
“The 20-plus years I spent on the Board of Directors on the GRA and WPRA were the years we asked committees for 50 percent of the prize money,” she said. “If you can think about it back in the day, barrel racers ran for $50, $100, $200. So, we as the Board asked the committees for half and worked toward equal money for the women.”
It wasn’t always easy, but Cindy and other leaders kept fighting hard for their peers.
“Those were trying times,” she said. “Some committees jumped on board and equaled the prize money right away. Then, there were some rodeos we lost for a couple years, but they eventually came back and brought the prize money up. It took us quite a few years, and we went from 50 percent to 75 percent to 100 percent.
“The WPRA has come a long way in 74 years, and those ladies in San Angelo would be proud of the sport today.”
A family affair
Cotton knew his daughter would be joining him in the Hall after the Class of 2022 was announced in mid-April but passed away on June 22 at the age of 93. Cindy was proud to know her legacy will live on forever in the annals of history thanks to her induction.
“I’ve been told that my dad and I are the first father-daughter inductees into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, alongside the mother-daughter [pair] Ellen and Sunni Backstrom,” Cindy said. “Ellen was my mentor in learning how to secretary rodeos. There were no schools back in those days, so it was trial by error.”
At the end of her memory-laden, heartfelt speech, Cindy recounted something her father often told her and remembered her late son.
“Like my dad said, I have a million dollars’ worth of friends in this business,” she said. “My two angels—my boy, Mikel J., and my dad—are watching down over us today.”
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