Steamboat Springs Some Steamboat Springs athletes have it easy with instant access to world-class facilities and competition. Others have to go great lengths and distances to stay at the cutting edge of their given sports.
Steamboat Springs sophomore Kacey Bull is pursuing dual dreams to excel in two sports that require serious time on the road - rodeo and volleyball.
She remembers having to leave after the Sailors' Sept. 16 volleyball match against Fruita to drive straight to Hotchkiss for the third of four events in the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association's fall season. The balancing act with the volleyball season put Bull at a slight disadvantage in two of the fall events, when she missed out on Saturday races and points at the two-day weekend competitions.
But the 16-year-old already has made her mark competing in the three rodeo disciplines of barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying.
Bull had a string of top barrel racing finishes last season and finished eighth at the June state championships in Jefferson County. The National High School Rodeo Association honored Bull's consistent finishes with a selection to the Wrangler High School All Star Rodeo Team. Students earn positions on the corporate-sponsored youth rodeo team based on leadership qualities, academic eligibility and athletic achievements.
Bull also is driven to succeed in her favorite event, barrel racing. She picked up the sport in her 4-H club growing up on Washington state's San Juan Islands. She continues riding and practicing daily, 10 months year at her parents' property north of Steamboat. But with only one other member, Kylie Hawes, on last year's Steamboat high school rodeo team, the pair were left criss-crossing the state to find like-minded athletes and attend competitions.
"I know I want to rodeo for the rest of my life," Bull said. "My overall dream is to go the National Finals Rodeo. : It's the thrill of running. It looks so simple, but there's a lot of technical terms and complicated things that you can always work on."
Bull now will have to balance her rodeo training with competitive club volleyball play. She was invited to open tryouts in November for the Front Range Volleyball Club's Mountain Division team.
Making the cut for a prestigious team that draws the best athletes from towns along the Western Slope's I-70 corridor and acts as a springboard to collegiate play was the easy part. Beginning Jan. 21, Bull will have to commute to Edwards three days a week to practice for the team's spring schedule.
"My goal this year was to make varsity," Bull said. "I got to play and was thrilled. Then when I made the (Mountain Division) club, I saw the opportunities and want to see how far I can take it."
Steamboat Springs volleyball coach Wendy Hall said she was pleased to see Bull, only one of three underclassmen on her squad, step up this year at the defensive-specializing libero position to make significant contributions on the team's serve-receive.
"When something's important to her, she'll do everything to improve and get the most out of her ability," Hall said. "With her work ethic, she'll develop every ounce of her talent."
While Bull is not sure where her talents will lead her, she said she will try to keep pushing and pursuing both of her passions, hoping they will complement one another.
"You have to focus in both aspects," Bull said. "In volleyball, you have to focus the whole time. With horses, when you're running, you have to be keen to what's going on around you. The way you turn a barrel, wide or skinny, you have to learn to deal in a split second. And you have to work out for both, whether it's lifting hay barrels or doing push-ups in a gym."