Kyle Lockett just finished in the 16th-place heartbreak hole in the world heeling standings. But a baby girl born to Kyle and wife Leigh on the literal last day of the regular 2020 rodeo season has delivered an obvious dose of perspective. Collins Marie Lockett made her grand entry on September 30, and at a healthy 21 inches and 9 pounds, 14 ounces, this precious bundle has the Lockett family on Cloud 9.
“She’s a big old bruiser, that’s for sure,” Kyle said of baby Collins, who was born at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in their hometown of Visalia, California, where Leigh is a labor and delivery nurse. “She’s the biggest of all our kids.”
Kyle and Leigh’s caboose, Collins, joins Team Lockett—Shayla, Georgia, Sutton and Blevins—who range in respective age from 14 down to 7. Contrary to modern tradition and the new normal of extravagant gender reveals, the Locketts have chosen never to know the sex of their babies before they were born. Instead, their gender reveal this time happened in their living room, when they brought Collins home 24 hours after her birth.
“Shayla was the only one of the kids who thought it would be a girl,” Kyle smiled. “I thought it was going to be a boy the whole time. We’re super excited. The kids are amazing with her. Georgia just stayed up all night with her.”
Nothing could be much sweeter than seeing the gentle giant who answers to Meat holding a baby doll dressed so pretty in pink. Lockett, who’s roped at eight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos to date spanning 1997 to 2019, finished $2,912 behind 15-place Chase Tryan when the curtain officially closed on the 2020 regular rodeo season the day Miss Collins was born.
“Generally speaking, this season was better than I thought it would be,” Lockett said. “There were a lot more rodeos than I thought we would have by a bunch. It was tougher, because you had to go to every rodeo they had, and every contestant there is was there at all of them. So it made every rodeo extra tough.
“We went to rodeos we’ve never been to before and will probably never go to again. But I thought it was cool to see a lot of country I’ve never seen before. I enjoyed that.”
Like most timed eventers who full-court-pressed it to the finish line, Lockett and Aaron Tsinigine’s last two rodeos were the Pro Tour Finale in Rapid City, South Dakota, and the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas. Tsinigine missed their first steer on Thursday night in Rapid City, but they rallied with a sizzling 3.9-second run on Friday night to win Round 2. They were one out of advancing to the final-eight round, as eight teams caught two steers. But those checks for $2,010 a man from Round 2 kept the race interesting, even with Tryan, Wesley Thorp, Trey Yates and Ryan Motes holding remaining bullets in their hands.
Tsingine missed their very last steer on Saturday night in Stephenville, but Tyler Wade and Billie Jack Saebens winning the rodeo in 3.7 speaks to the gunslinging it was. Extra swings were absolutely not optional.
“We all knew going in that whoever had a good Tour Finale was going to have the upper hand,” Lockett said. “If you got to run one there at Rapid City on Saturday night, you had a pretty good chance. As for Stephenville, as it all ended up going down, the $2,530 that paid would not have been enough for me to make it if we had won it. And that’s a hard spot to go try to end the season as fast as everybody ropes around there. It’s a tough go. You have to go for first, and it either works or it doesn’t.”
Like clockwork, Leigh was waiting on him at the airport when Kyle flew home Sunday morning from DFW. It’s always good to get home, and they were already “on to the next one”—in this case, the hospital to welcome this new baby on Wednesday.
“Sixteenth sucks,” Kyle said. “But hell, it’s better than 17. It’s just what it is. It’s not what you want, but it could have been a lot worse. There’s a lot of stuff that’s important to worry about in life. The way I look at it, it was a pleasant surprise that we even got to go to rodeos this year.”
The Locketts’ first official outing as a party of seven will be next week’s California Circuit Finals Rodeo, October 9-10 in Red Bluff, where Kyle will rope with Lane Karney. Don’t use “three ring circus” to describe chaos until you’ve witnessed the football-flying fun had by all at Lockett Camp.
“We’re all excited about getting to go somewhere as a big family,” Kyle said. “I don’t think being 16 is that big of a deal. In fact, I’ve already forgotten about it.” TRJ