ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The horse rider who calls me Papa

"In 65-plus years of life, pretty much my only interest in horsehide has been hitting it."

Axton Mansch
Axton Mansch is in the saddle as his grandfather watches on a beautiful day in Montana.
Special to The Globe
We are part of The Trust Project.
Scott Mansch
Scott Mansch

OK. Full disclosure here.

In 65-plus years of life, pretty much my only interest in horsehide has been hitting it. We’re talking line drives in the gap or long ones over the fence.

I was and always will be a baseball boy.

But that’s changed a little bit.

As you can see by the recent story under my byline about Jackson rodeo star Sadie Hotzler and a few of her young roping and riding friends, horses have earned more meaning.

ADVERTISEMENT

In more ways than one.

Though I’m a Murray County man, born and bred, I lived in Montana for a long time before returning home. My only son (a talented ball player back in the day) still lives in Big Sky Country after marrying his high school sweetheart.

MORE SPORTS
Luverne is seeded No. 1 in the upcoming Section 3A girls high school hockey tournament and Worthington is seeded sixth.
The Worthington Trojans boys basketball team played exceptional defense against Canistota, surrendering a mere 11 points in the first half.
Outstanding outside shooting helped the Eagles beat Worthington in Worthington, 82-68

She was, and is, a rodeo girl.

So of course their boy Axton, my only grandson, is a fledgling rodeo star. He’s a team roper, an 11-year-old who cares more about heading and heeling than head-first slides. More about fast times than tape-measure home runs.

More about horses than hitting the horsehide.

And that’s perfectly fine with me.

Shelly Hotzler and I have quite a bit in common. She is Sadie’s mother, a former softball star who coached the Jackson County Central High girls to abundant success on the diamond.

Ball players were important to her, too.

ADVERTISEMENT

But now that Sadie is a barrel racer and breakaway roper, loops and laps around the cloverleaf pattern have replaced line drives on Shelly’s wish list.

I know that feeling myself.

Owner Brent Pavelko has spent significant time renovating the interior, using an eclectic mix of materials and decor relating to Lakefield and the surrounding region itself.

On a recent trip to Montana, Axton and I spent lots of time together. Oh, he was interested in throwing the football around and playing a little catch with the baseball. Didn’t even mind when I asked to throw him some batting practice.

But he was happier when showing me how to properly toss the lariat. By the way, it’s not as easy as it looks.

“Use your wrist like this, Papa,” he said.

“No, take a step forward like this when tossing the rope,” he said.

“Well, that isn’t too bad,” he said when I missed.

After about 20 tries to rope a dummy steer by the horns, I caught one.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There you go,” Axton said.

Ha. Reminded me of when I was a boy and Dad would groove a fastball that I connected with.

There you go, Scotty Boy.
But those days are gone. The youngest Mansch boy in the family isn’t going to be playing baseball anytime soon. He’s going to rope and ride and become a real cowboy.

Come to think of it, I’ve always liked cowboys. Whether on the big screen at Dad’s Murray County Theater in Slayton or singing in the honkytonks.

MORE FROM SCOTT MANSCH
Former JCC sports star Rudy Voss retires from SDSU football for medical reasons
Tom Goehle, son of legendary coach Hugo Goehle, was once a star athlete at Hills-Beaver Creek High School. Now he gives back through coaching and his involvement in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Former Worthington High basketball great Marty Jorgensen died recently at his winter home in Arizona.

So I can adjust.

In this day and age of travel teams for youth sports, rodeo is no cheap date. It’s expensive to haul horses across the country. Rodeos don’t exactly abound in southwest Minnesota, either.

My grandson is in the Montana Junior Rodeo Association. He’s got big dreams, and a great family to support him. Indeed, his mother and father and extended family are behind him 100%.

That’s what it takes to be successful in any sport.

Shelly Hotzler knows what I’m talking about. Sure, she thought young Sadie might one day be a fast pitch softball star. But that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

So the Hotzlers will continue to pay for Sadie’s rodeo education, one trip at a time.

“You know what?” Shelly said. “It’s worth every dime. To see that smile on her face is worth every dime.”

Scott Mansch may be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com.

Related Topics: SLAYTONRODEO
Opinion by Scott Mansch
Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
What To Read Next
Those who value education are attracted by strong public libraries, which is why professionals ... are drawn to communities with up-to-date, attractive libraries....
Unpacking is set for later in the week, with the facility scheduled to open to the public on Feb. 13.
Schomacker has signed onto a bipartisan proposal to leverage federal dollars to help replace lead water pipes throughout the state.
"Our staff has done a great job integrating social and emotional learning curriculum, allowing students to engage in meaningful conversations and activities."