As she stepped into the dirt arena at Reliant Stadium, Yvette Leos looked up in amazement at the thousands of spectators and bright lights of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
She and 30 others took their place in the spotlight – a 3-acre spotlight, that is. Their objective: catch one of 15 calves and bring it back to the center of the arena. Her eyes watched carefully at the starter’s hat. As his hat dropped, she took off in a full sprint with her sights on catching a calf.
It was a task she truly took by the tail. However, the elusive calves had other ideas.
“On my first few attempts, I grabbed them by the tail and got dragged a good 10 yards. Then, on another attempt, I got kicked in the head to the point my ear was bleeding. I never felt a real headache until that moment,” said Leos, a Channelview High School sophomore and first-year Future Farmers of America member.
Calf scramble committee members tried to convince her to go to seek first aid, but Leos said, “I kept running away from them because I was determined I was going to catch a calf – nothing was going to stop me.”
In what Leos described as the “longest field ever,” she grabbed hold of the neck of a calf, fastened a halter on, and guided the animal into the square. “I was exhausted, but it was exciting to see the committee member’s flag go up as I pulled the calf across the line, she said. “Words cannot really explain how amazing it felt.”
Leos said she has always wanted to participate in the HLS&R Calf Scramble.
“Since the first time my parents took me to the rodeo, the Calf Scramble has always been interesting to me,” she said. “I always laughed at how a calf would drag a participant or throw them into the fence. It’s not as funny when that participant is you!”
For catching a calf at this year’s show, Leos received a $1,500 certificate to purchase a steer that she will show at the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. She will also receive $250 for turning in a record book of future experiences with the calf she will be raising this year.
In addition to raising her new steer, she is also raising a goat and a pig that she plans to show in the future.
Leos’ performance in the Calf Scramble certainly has made a memorable impression among her friends in FFA.
“Everyone I have told about my experience is shocked, because they didn’t realize that I am such a tough, brave, crazygirlwithalotofgutstodo such a thing as being a part of the biggest calf scramble in Texas,” she said.