The University of Wyoming athletics department recently launched a new video series titled, “Why Wyoming.” The videos, about 60 seconds in length, entail a brief interview with student-athletes, detailing why they chose UW.

Ever since I took the job at The Sheridan Press I’ve asked a similar question to many aspiring Cowboys and Cowgirls. I was curious why Sheridanites — such as Blayne Baker, Parker Christensen, Molly Green and Kirby Coe-Kirkham — chose UW when other universities outside of their home state were recruiting them, as well.

The answers varied from Laramie residing relatively close to Sheridan to UW recruiting them most aggressively to simply wanting to suit up for the team that they grew up watching, idolizing and dreaming of playing for one day.

I contemplated swimming for the University of Wyoming in 2012. I reached out to the head coach, sent him my high school times, but a walk-on spot wasn’t available at the time, so I dropped that dream and simply attended the school that I had grown to love as a child.

My dad was a graduate of UW. He moved back to Ohio shortly after graduation and has lived in the Buckeye State ever since. That didn’t suppress his passion for the Pokes, however.

I watched, listened, followed and cheered for Wyoming as an adolescent alongside my father. My first UW sporting event was a football game between the Pokes and Syracuse in 2006. I remember the “WYO” chant echoing throughout the Carrier Dome as Wyoming fought the Orange tooth and nail before falling in overtime.

My dad and I attended many UW games whenever the Cowboys traveled close to Northeast Ohio. I saw Brandon Ewing and the basketball team take on Akron. I saw Austin Carta-Samuels and the football team down Toledo in dramatic fashion.

I spent many late nights — much to the chagrin of my mother — during middle school and high school listening to Dave Walsh and Kevin McKinney call basketball games with pre-algebra just a few hours away — thanks a lot Eastern Time Zone.

I loved the Pokes for years and while I bled brown and gold, I never knew what it truly meant. That is until I visited Laramie for the first time in 2011. During spring break of my freshman year at Kent State University, my dad and I drove more than 1,300 miles, through the darkness of Iowa and past barren western Nebraska to arrive at my father’s alma mater. It took me all of a split second to know I wanted this for myself. I wanted to be a Wyoming Cowboy. I wanted to attend college in the High Plains of southeastern Wyoming.

And for two-and-a-half years, I never felt homesick. Laramie was home, the Pokes were my team and the brown and gold were my colors.

I owe a great deal to the University of Wyoming and Laramie. For a 19-year-old kid who had never been west of Chicago, Wyoming was different, exciting but most importantly, comforting.

I love Saturdays in September when the Pokes have a home game and there’s an energy pulsing through the streets of Laramie. I love fall days at Vedauwoo when the trees are changing and the wind has a little more bite to it. I love the pep band frequenting dive bars and dance halls to play Ragtime Cowboy Joe on a vibrant Friday night. I loved waking up, glancing out my window and seeing mountains in every direction.

I’m so proud to be a Wyoming Cowboy. I didn’t grow up in this great state but I feel a part of it now and I always will. Steamboat is more than just a bucking bronco, it’s a badge of honor.

Wyoming left an indelible impression on me, and I hope I repaid this state, in the smallest of ways, with my sports reporting. Thank you Wyoming, you’ve done more for me than this column can express.

 

Pokes Notes

Scott Dahlberg was named the new University of Wyoming cross-country head coach.

UW trackster Henry Ewing competed in the steeplechase at the World University Games for New Zealand. He finished 16th with a time of 9:12.88.

Six UW golfers on the women’s team earned All-American scholar honors.