Sixteenth sucks. Just ask Matt Sherwood, who came up $588 short behind Brenten Hall for this year’s 15th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo back number on the heading side. At 51, the two-time Champ of the World is wiser than most. Still, his Top 15 close call in 2020 has cost him a lot of sleep.
“It’s the worst thing in the world after you rodeo hard all year on a year like this one,” said the Pima, Arizona, veteran of eight NFRs between 2006 to 2019. “It sucks not making the Finals no matter where you end up. I realize 16th is better than 17th in terms of money won, but missing the Finals by $500 made me wake up in the middle of the night every single night for a month.
“I’d wake up with thoughts about how one tenth of a second here, there or anywhere would have made the difference. What if we’d won San Antonio instead of splitting it (with Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves)? I’ve missed the NFR tons of times. This time tore me up and broke my heart.”
As part of Sherwood’s professional diversification program, he ordered a 10-stall portable shower unit just as the world—including rodeo—was shutting down last March.
“I got that first one in May, and sold it right off the bat, then ordered another one,” said entrepreneur Sherwood, whose portable showers are used by firefighters out on location. “I got called out to a fire in L.A. in early September, so I sent it to California with a couple guys (who sanitize the unit after every shower in keeping with COVID-19 protocol). Then I got a call the other day to take it to Fort Collins. So the first week of October (right after the regular rodeo season ended September 30), I flew to L.A. and drove it straight through all night to Colorado. Then it started snowing, so we got sent home. Fire season’s about over, but it’s ended up being a pretty good investment so far.”
Sherwood—who has been hard at it at home, including getting wife Kim’s kitchen backsplash done and chicken coop built, and hand-hauling 500 bales of hay to avoid the additional $1.50 per bale to have someone else do it—does not plan to rodeo hard in 2021. But you can bet the diversification will continue.
“Once you hit 50, you better have something else going on or you’ll be stuck,” said the 2006 and ’08 world champion header, who as the team roping event rep will be in Arlington, Texas, before this year’s NFR starts to help the Top 15 sort the steers into pens. “I do not plan to pursue rodeo full time in 2021. I’m going to go to Houston, San Antonio and Tucson with Coleby Payne. I also want to work on my heeling. If I ever rodeo again, I want it to be heeling. I think heading is a young-man’s game.”