It might seem Shane Proctor is an overnight sensation – and he’s probably been more sensational than rodeo fans can even imagine – but that’s not the case at all.
The 26-year-old from Grand Coulee, who is sitting on top of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riding standings, is a successful five-year veteran of the Professional Bull Riders, headed to his fifth-straight finals in Las Vegas at the end of the month in eighth place with $245,092.
But what is amazing is his $171,778 at traditional rodeos this year, taking a $40,000 lead heading into his first National Finals Rodeo, which begins Dec. 1 in Las Vegas.
He got there by winning about a dozen rodeos this year, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, and doesn’t even count the $100,000 he got for winning the Calgary Stampede.
“It’s definitely been a phenomenal year for me,” Proctor said. “I had a lot of expectations but it’s kind of been rolling. It’s been a lot of fun. I think that’s a big reason I’ve had the success, I’m having fun.”
Proctor was an all-around athlete at Lake Roosevelt, where is dad, Gordon, is a physical education teacher and his mom, Kathy, teaches business and information technology.
“He was a roper before he was anything,” his father said. “We rodeoed a lot as a family.”
Mom, dad and sisters Cody and Kaycee all roped. Proctor earned his first paycheck before he was a teenager.
“He didn’t start riding rough stock until about a sophomore in high school,” Gordon said. “He rode calves, he rode steers. We weren’t too fond of him riding rough stock, but that was his interest. When he was a sophomore we let him start riding bulls. He rode his first eight bulls.”
The only stipulation was he had to wear a helmet, which he is quick to credit for keeping him healthy.
Proctor was an all-league running back for the Raiders and in the spring he was on the track team his father coached as a freshman and senior, but played baseball the years in between. His best sport was wrestling. Starting as a 119-pound freshman, he was either second or third in the State 1A-B tournament up through his senior year as a 152-pounder in 2003.
But rodeo was always his favorite.
Proctor went to the National High School Rodeo Association Finals three times as a bull rider and twice in bareback and bronc riding.
“I wasn’t a bad roper at all,” he said. “There was just something about bull riding, the aspect of you against him, the only person you’ve got to blame is yourself. I think that was something that attracted me, plus the adrenalin rush. It’s something you won’t get doing anything else. It’s addicting.”
He had several options for college but elected to go to Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyo., because of its strong wrestling program and he had an interest in being a wrestling coach.
From there he went to Montana State, but didn’t finish because he got involved in the PBR.
“There wasn’t much time for school,” his father said. “You can always go to school when you’re old, but the opportunity to ride bulls was then and there.”
Still, Proctor made the College National Finals twice and in 2005 finished in the top 12 in all three riding events, finishing third in the all-around.
It was at a PBR event where he met Jessi Mauney, the sister of bull rider J.B. Mauney, and they were married during the 2009 PBR Finals. They live in Mooresville, N.C., her country, and raise bucking bulls with her brother. Proctor said it was preparing them for the next step of their careers.
“Rodeo is in our blood,” he said. “It overcomes us.”
As only a cowboy can, he explained relocating to the east coast.
The first time Jessi flew in to Spokane en route to the Proctor home, she forgot a coat. When Proctor suggested they pick one up in Spokane, she said she’d pass, preferring to wait to go to the mall near his home.
“It’s definitely a change,” he said. “I grew up in a town where we’re an hour and a half from Wal-Mart. Over here if you’re seven miles from a Wal-Mart you’re in the country.”
Take your pick
His first few years in the PBR it was a year-long battle to the Finals but he got off to a hot start last year and decided to hit a few PRCA rodeos.
“I always wanted to go to more rodeos but I never had the opportunity because I was always more focused on the PBR,” he said. “I had to work my way up the ranks.”
He went to 42 rodeos and won $52,710 to finish 23rd in the standings – which meant his career earnings coming into this season were $83,815. That allowed him to qualify for some of the larger, limited entry rodeos this year, and after finishing 13th in the PBR Finals, set about putting together a dream season.
It became easy when he became the first bull rider to win both go-rounds and the short-go at the National Western Rodeo in Denver in January, pocketing $17,350. The wins just kept coming.
“One thing with the PBR experience, I’ve been in a lot of situations where there’s a lot of money on the line and that’s helped me out,” he said. “You go back to the (PRCA) short round (typically 12 qualify) and I’ve rode bulls in the short round. That’s why I’ve won as much as I have, because I went and stayed on.”
He’s also missed a few rodeo finals because the PBR comes first – and pays more. He won the San Antonio PBR in August, good for $45,000.
“It’s like working two big puzzles,” Proctor explained. “You try to fit them together the best you can but sometimes you have to sacrifice. It’s not a bad deal when you have to sacrifice one for a chance to win $45,000 at the other.”
But he is really enjoying the new experience.
He’s gotten on a few bucking horses along the way and is roping on occasion. Also, his wife is getting back into barrel racing.
“Rodeo is lot of tradition, PBR is strictly bull riding,” Proctor said. “We’re in a lot of big venues, NBA arenas, hockey arenas. In rodeo it’s a lot of traditional arenas, neat rodeos. … It’s fun going to a lot of the same rodeos as a lot of guys I really looked up to.”
There are other slight differences between the production of the PBR and the tradition of a rodeo.
“There are a lot of the same bulls,” he said. “A lot of rodeo contractors take bulls to PBR events. The main difference is there are so many different contractors, the best bulls of everybody’s herd are at the PBR instead of somebody’s whole herd at a rodeo.”
And there is a wide range of ability and experience at most rodeos while only the top qualifiers are part of the PBR Built Ford Tough circuit.
But when it comes to getting on the back of a two-ton bull, it doesn’t matter what the event is.
“My mentality is I’m focused on both,” Proctor said. “I want to go ride to the best of my ability. I set small goals all year. If I accomplish my small goals, they lead to those big ones.”
No rock unturned
Proctor has certainly taken advantage of every opportunity.
In 2008 he won the Toughest Cowboy reality television competition, earning $35,000 and a 36½- acre ranch near Pueblo, Colo. He has also done a couple of other reality shows.
Now he is sharing his success.
During spring break the past two years, with the help of some of the top bull riders and the outstanding stock contractors in this area, Proctor has put on a bull riding school in Nespelem, Wash., at the arena where he learned to ride.
“I always wanted to give back to the people who helped me learn to ride,” he said. “It’s phenomenal to watch the kids progress. It’s fun to see a community come together to put it on.”
The riders, between the ages of 12 and 18, only pay $25 to cover insurance. Last spring more than 200 bulls were bucked out in two days.
He also helps with the Lake Roosevelt wrestling team when he’s home for Christmas.
“Wrestling around with them, not only is it fun for them having me there but it really starts to get me back in the mode of getting on bulls,” he said. “It’s controlled aggressiveness that I need for riding bulls.”
And in his opinion it is much more.
“The fundamentals of wrestling are the base for anything,” he said. “It helps you with football, bull riding. It teaches you balance; it teaches you to be disciplined. That’s a big part of riding bulls. Figure out what works for you, keeping it simple and being disciplined about it.”
And right now, no one has it figured out any better.