BISMARCK, N.D. – It had been a month since Chase Outlaw had seen his fiancé, Nicole, and their 5-month old daughter, Chloe, until they flew into Bismarck Municipal Airport on Friday.
Outlaw had gone through a long road of recovery to return to competition following multiple reconstructive shoulder surgeries in the past year, but a clean bill of health once again means long days on the summer grind.
That also means time away from Nicole and Chloe.
“There is always a lot of Facetiming,” Outlaw said. “Hell, I had seen them yesterday for the first time in a month, but when you are out winning it don’t make it as hard on the wife whenever you are gone that long and are winning. If you are going that long and you ain’t winning, it does make it that much harder.”
Outlaw won the second night of the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank & Trust BlueDEF Tour event, presented by Cooper Tires, on Saturday night by going 2-for-2.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider notched the victory with a 90.5-point ride on Modified Clyde in the championship round after riding Yesterday’s Wine for 88.5 points in Round 1. He has ridden seven of his last 12.
The victory came less than 24 hours after Outlaw spent part of his Friday night at the hospital. Outlaw needed 10 stitches on his chin after colliding heads with Siouxper Stinger during the first night of competition in Bismarck.
Sunday will be a special Father’s Day for Outlaw as he and Nicole are also planning on getting married during the day at Chad Berger’s Mandan, North Dakota, ranch after making a relatively spur of the moment decision this week.
The couple has been engaged for a year, and were planning a destination wedding on a beach, but were having a hard time finding a date that worked for their friends.
“We were going to have it at the house, but we could have been at a bull riding getting points,” Chase said. “It has been hard trying to get down there and to the bull ridings too. I planned this Wednesday and talked to the old lady about it. Chad said it was alright if we got married at his house and she was OK with it.”
Chase and Nicole plan on also having a reception with additional friends and family back in Arkansas at a later date.
Many riders, past and present, say that being a father while competing in the dangerous sport on Earth is a harder than expected challenge at times.
Four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris and three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo have opened up about trying to balance the two major priorities of their lives, while two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney has said that it gets harder to leave home and head to bull ridings when he would much rather spend additional time with his daughter, Bella.
At 23 years old, Outlaw, who will have eight injury exemptions to use once the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in August, is one of the few young guns on the BFTS that is a bull rider and father. Outlaw also has a 4-year-old daughter, Cashleigh, from a previous relationship.
Fellow young gun Tanner Byrne is celebrating his first Father’s Day this year. He and his wife, Meghan, had their first child (Layla) in February.
Tanner, currently 12th in the world standings, said being a first-time father has led to him maturing in and out of the arena.
“I think it is just the whole mindset of it,” he said in April. “You realize there is bigger things in life and that makes you want to stay on. You have to support your family and make a good life for your kids. It is not that pressure that you think it would be. It is more wanting to prove you can support your family through this sport. I think it made me mature. It has made my life complete with my wife and now the kid. You are growing up and realizing it is not just bull riding.”
Meanwhile, one of the memorable photos taken during the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals was Cooper Davis holding his son, Mackston, while he celebrated being the fourth rookie in PBR history to ever win the World Finals.
Davis, who is eighth in the world standings, agreed with Byrne and Outlaw about the added obligations you have as a father.
“You have two mouths to feed and a little boy that looks up to you whenever you get home,” Davis said.
The 22-year-old, referring back to his comments during the World Finals press conference that he hoped Mackston would one day be a golfer, then added, “He loves it already. Unfortunately I got a bull rider on my hands instead of a golfer, but I will be there to support him.”
Davis competed in Bismarck this weekend and finished in fourth place on Saturday night. He became the fifth rider to ever reach the 8-second mark on Beaver Creek Beau, doing so for a career-high 92.5 points in the championship round.
Still nothing beats being a dad.
“That is the coolest thing in the world, being a dad,” Davis said. “The bull riding thing is all fun, but getting to go home to him and Kaitlyn every day. That is where the money is at.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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