Chasing a childhood dream drives Cade “Gibby” Gibson these days.
“All I have ever wanted to be was a rodeo cowboy,” he said.
Gibson is getting his shot: He is a rookie freestyle bullfighter in Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting circuit.
The 2016 graduate of Tioga High School played football and baseball for the Bulldogs. He was the quarterback of the football team, and he ultimately got a scholarship to play college baseball.
“[Baseball] was a good opportunity for me, but it was not my dream,” Gibson said.
Gibson’s college roommate finally convinced him to chase his dream.
“We had a lot of talks about it,” Gibson said. “Something was missing in my life, and it was my childhood dream. He convinced me that I should be chasing my dream, and I am thankful he did.”
Since that day, Gibson has been working toward becoming a rodeo cowboy.
“It was tough,” he said of the start.
Gibson had a full-time job in construction, and he tried to balance that with working out and being on the road.
The first year he tried to rodeo was filled with disappointment. Between injuries and not being in total control of his time he was not fulfilling his goals or his dreams.
“I prayed a lot,” he said. “Finally, I felt God wanted me to be all-in. He gave me this talent and it’s up to me to give my all for him.”
With that, Gibson quit his job and hit the road. He went to a couple of bullfighting schools and was soon being noticed by some of the greats in the game.
Cody Webster and Nathan Hart helped him learn some moves, as well as how to read a bull at the school. Gibson also committed to a rigorous training schedule.
“Will Hooper trains me at Fit-n-Wise in Denton when I am in town,” he said. “He has helped me come up with meal plans as well as a workout plan. When we are on the road I have to get creative. We do a lot of body weight exercises.”
Traveling complicates things.
“With all the time we spend in the car, we have to stop and do push-ups and jumping jacks,” Gibson said. “We do anything we can think of that will get us some exercise and provide the energy we need to keep going. The bulls eat well every day, so I feel I have to do the same thing. There are no days off. I have to eat right, work right, pray right and be right every day to get where I want to be.”
Shorty Gorham is arguably the best in the business. When he started to notice Gibson, the opportunities started pouring in.
Gorham invited Gibson to join his tour, and his consistency has been noticed around the country.
Gibson took second place in the Gonzales, Texas, event. He followed that up with another second place in Missouri. It was there he got his first win in the preliminary – or long go-round.
His third straight second place finish left Gibson longing for more.
“It’s great to be side-by-side with world champions,” he said. “But I was getting tired of always finishing second. I knew I could win. I just needed a big showing somewhere.”
That big showing came at his next event in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Gibson decided to go all-in with a trick he had been thinking about – a backflip off of the barrel over a charging bull.
“It was a dangerous and risky trick, but I had confidence that it would work,” he said. “The only thing I could not control was the bull. He had to do what I hoped he would do for it to work out – and he did.”
That move, combined with the rest of work that weekend earned him his first win of his young career.
With the win came a few sponsors that have made life on the road a little bit easier.
They help with gas and hotel money, and maybe some food money,” he said.
Before that win, Gibson would get to a rodeo and hope to find a ride to the next one. He also spent many nights sleeping in his car to save money.
“It helps, but I still have to keep grinding. Just because I get to sleep in a bed most of the time now does not mean I get to relax. I have to keep pushing to get where I want to be,” he said.
And where does he want to be? It all culminates in the finals, and to be crowned World Champion.
“That is the goal. To win it all,” he said with a grin.
He knows it’s a tall task, but he believes he up to the challenge.
“All of the guys on tour are very good. We are all friends. We root for one another to be successful. We don’t compete against each other, but rather we compete against the bulls we draw. When our run is over, we help each other do the best they can against their bull. Ultimately, we believe that pushes us all to be better cowboys and better people.”
Gibson finished with another second-place finish at the Bulls of the West competition in San Angelo July 14 to solidify his place in the top tier of bullfighters. He will compete in Billings, Montana, July 28 before heading to another bullfight in Missouri. He then heads to Nebraska for an event Aug. 2.
“It’s busy, but it’s my dream,” he said. “It’s all I have ever wanted to do.”
Follow Cade and watch him chase his dream on his Facebook page – Cade Gibson Professional Bullfighter. He is also on his sponsor’s page at livefullbore.com. He will be in Alex, Oklahoma, Aug. 24 and 25 to compete in the DOXA Extreme Rodeo competition.