Cole Franks is 18. He has been around rodeo since he was born and an active guy on the dirt since elementary school.
While Cody Nite Rodeo is unlikely to be the biggest crown he ever wins, it is also unlikely he will match the kind of results he had one night in June at Stampede Park.
Few cowboys enter both bareback and saddle bronc riding in the same rodeo. One crazed horse at a time.
But Franks scored 87 points in bareback and 82 points in saddle bronc. He won both events the same evening.
“That’s a really good night,” Franks said. “I was pretty pumped. It always feels good to win.”
It must be in the genes.
Franks, son of former saddle bronc star Bret, currently the Clarendon College, Texas coach, and a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and older brother Clint, 21, have both competed in Cody this summer.
Also, dad has made two appearances of about a week apiece to tutor young riders.
All three will unite at Clarendon this fall, Coach Dad still teaching the boys he has been raising in the sport. Cole is coming off third place in bareback at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs.
Cole has been all in on rodeo since he was about 6. Clint, who is spending all season in Cody, enjoyed sampling other sports. He is 5-foot-8 and weighs 155 pounds. If he stood 6-4 and weighed 220, he would probably be eyeing pro football.
“I always wanted to be an NFL player,” Clint said.
He played some baseball, ran track and delivered hits on the gridiron. Now his directional arrow points to pro rodeo.
Bret Franks is from Oklahoma and graduated from Panhandle State. He had a 10-year PRCA riding career and then won two national championships coaching there. He has worked at Clarendon for a decade.
This is the second year he has participated in the Cody Nite-PRCA coaching program, something he admits can aid him with recruiting, but which is focused on developing young talent in the rodeo world.
“We need them to be trained properly,” he said. “Everyone needs to start off somewhere in a controlled environment put on in a professional manner. They need to learn how to be a professional.”
The modern rodeo roughstock rider works out harder away from the arena and eats better, Franks said, meaning there is a lot to learn.
Brent believes it will be fun to coach both of his sons beginning this fall.
“They’re very receptive to my coaching style,” he said. “I think it will be a huge plus. They can be like assistant coaches. They’re great boys, good Christian men. It starts with faith and family. It starts with being a well-rounded person.”
Clint has already spent a college year under his father’s tutelage and said competing for your dad isn’t as easy as it might seem. This would not be the first time a coach’s son realizes that.
“It’s a lot harder for me than for everyone else,” Clint said. “But overall, it’s pretty awesome.”
Clint competed in Cody Nite Rodeo briefly in 2018. When he realized how valuable the experience was, he said, “I was mad I couldn’t be there all season.”
So he came back for this whole summer and regularly picks off individual saddle bronc wins with 70s scores and the occasional 80.
“This is the best place in the world to be the best,” Clint said.
Cole dove into rodeo heavily by eighth grade, in multiple events. Yes, dad was an influence, but the attraction went deeper.
“The adrenalin,” he said. “The atmosphere, really.
Last Oct. 23, Cole shattered bones in his left foot when a horse flipped over on him at a Texas rodeo. He underwent surgery inserting pins, screws and a plate and sat out until mid-March. Now he is having surgeries to remove those stabilizers group by group, otherwise he would hang around Cody the rest of the season too.
“I’ve always wanted to come here,” Cole said. “I love it.”
There’s always next year.