Steve Coleman remains true to himself, St. Paul Rodeo

Steve Coleman remains true to himself, St. Paul Rodeo

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The rodeo in St. Paul begins as do Fourth of July festivities, but that's not all Heather Rayhorn

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Steve Coleman has been a part of the St. Paul Rodeo for most of his 74 years.(Photo: Bill Poehler | Statesman Journal)Buy Photo

WOODBURN – The rest of the world is closing in on a 30-acre field that Steve Coleman owns.

He purchased the now alfalfa-covered tract in the mid-1970s when he was newly married, starting a business and competing in rodeos.

Today, there are houses to the west, the outlet mall to the east and the lot to the south has been sold and will soon be more houses – and before long the chunk of dirt will be too valuable for Coleman’s current use of growing feed for the cows back at his ranch in Molalla.

Regardless, Coleman has remained authentic to himself.

He wakes up at 4 a.m. each day to work long days on the ranch and then – in what counts as his free time – spends endless hours in the arena at the St. Paul Rodeo.

“I guess I wouldn’t trade my lifestyle for anything, and I’m still enjoying it,” the 74-year-old Coleman said. “We run a bunch of cows and grow these hops and make hay and we’re doing things we enjoy doing.

“It’s a western lifestyle.”

At Coleman’s age, and with the successes he’s had in life, most people would have retired.

When bulls are bucking in the arena at the St. Paul Rodeo, Coleman is on the arena floor. When they aim for him, he climbs up the chutes to safety quicker than 20-year-olds.

“That’s a life lesson," said his son, retired Pro Bull Riders star Ross Coleman. "I always thought, there’s no way I can go that hard and work that hard.”

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Steve Coleman prepares to send another cowboy and animal out into competition at the St. Paul Rodeo in 1997. (Photo: Bruce Thorson | Statesman Journal file)

Coleman, a 1961 graduate of St. Paul High School, has been going to the St. Paul Rodeo nearly every year of his life. His parents, Don and Maureen, were members of the rodeo from the time he was young.

Though Coleman was a multi-sport athlete at St. Paul, the rodeo was something he didn’t try until he was 25.

“One of the first things I did was enter the wild horse race when I got old enough,” he said. “My partner Tex Irwin and I won that probably (in) 1966 or something way back there.”

He scraped together every dollar he could from jobs as a general laborer on farms that paid a dollar an hour, then caught the rodeo bug when he got a job working for the Christensen Brothers stock contractors.

Coleman was doing menial labor like helping feed livestock and load chutes with animals, but he was hooked.

He competed in the Northwest, but set out to bigger rodeos in Calgary, Chicago, Denver, and Houston a few times.

“I bought my first little place up here in 1972 when I got married (to Cathy) so I kind of settled down, went around the Northwest,” Coleman said. “We’d go to Pendleton and Joseph and Red Bluff, California and just stay over here on the West Coast.”

He took over as the as livestock director at the St. Paul Rodeo in 1979 and finally won the bareback championship at the rodeo in 1980.

By that time he had a family and his rodeo riding career was almost over.

But his involvement in the St. Paul Rodeo, and his involvement in the sport, was just getting going.

His six children – Christy, Kim, Todd, Bridget, Ross and Mitch – have been involved in the sport in one way or another.

Though the kids grew up on the family ranch in Molalla, the Molalla Buckeroo – also a big rodeo that conflicts with the St. Paul Rodeo – was foreign territory.

“When we lived in Molalla growing up, we would go to the Molalla Buckeroo maybe once when it didn’t conflict with St. Paul,” Ross Coleman said. “St. Paul it’s just got a great atmosphere over there.

“Dad winning it was great. I’m sure he was very excited about it then. When I got to win it a couple years in a row, that was pretty fun. St. Paul was special.”

Ross Coleman became one of the biggest stars in the PBR, competing for 13 years and winning more than $1 million before retiring in 2011.

“Ross had so much talent, he was a better bareback rider through the high school years than a bull rider, and he rode broncs really good, so he could have been a Larry Mahan and a Ty Murray,” Steve Coleman said.

“But he and Justin (McBride) started going to those PBR’s with (casino magnate) Michael Gaughanwhen they were in college. Michael Gaughan would load them up in his jet plane and they’d go fly out and go to a PBR or something. That’s a pretty nice lifestyle for a college kid.”

Steve Coleman is shown in 2003 with a herd of cows at his ranch in Molalla. (Photo: Rick Browmer | Associated Press file)

Now Coleman has grandchildren riding junior bulls and despite having few hours in the day free, he drops what he’s doing to see a grandchild riding horses, calves or roping.

Coleman was inducted into the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2005 and stayed on as the chute boss and livestock director until 2016 when he gave up the jobs to his former protégé, Matt Weishoff.

It was tough for him to give up his position on the board of directors after 36 years, but it was time.

That doesn’t mean you don’t see him at the St. Paul Rodeo. He’s on the floor of the arena more than anyone.

At one point Coleman had a contract with Anheuser-Busch to grow hops on the land in Woodburn, but now it’s becoming more valuable for uses other than farming.

He owns his 800 acre ranch in Molalla, a 300 acre farm in St. Paul and owns or rents various properties around the area.

He figures he’ll sell the Woodburn property – one that requires driving around a road closed sign, through a heavily rutted dirt road and shrubbery to reach – in the next five years, but Steve Coleman is far from hanging up his cowboy hat.

“We still got to drive through that miserable mall over there,” he says with a grin.

“We’ll be able to trade it for a bigger parcel of ground where we can raise more cows or do something constructive.”

[email protected] or Twitter.com/bpoehler

St. Paul Rodeo

Friday, June 30:7:30 p.m. performance.

Saturday, July 1:7:30 p.m. performance.

Sunday, July 2:7:30 p.m. performance.

Monday, July 3:7:30 p.m. performance.

Tuesday, July 4: 1:30 p.m. matinee performance; 7:30 p.m. performance.

 

Source : http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/sports/2017/06/29/steve-coleman-remains-true-himself-st-paul-rodeo/416605001/

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