ANDREWS Tyler Handley found his dream scenario at Texas A&M.
The Andrews senior signed with the Aggies’ rodeo team Wednesday morning to officially pledge his athletic future to College Station.
Handley has honed his rodeo skills since he was 5 years old and said the moment of signing his letter of intent was surreal, but a blessing as well.
“Whenever I got their offer … I knew I was locked in,” Handley said about Texas A&M. “There’s a lot of rodeos there. Trying to rodeo out of West Texas is so hard. Everything’s like over four hours away and there, you’re right smack in the middle of it.”
Texas A&M competes in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Southern Region, against teams like Sam Houston State, which finished runner-up at the NIRA’s national finals last year.
“I know a lot of those guys that I’m going to be riding against and it’s some tough stuff,” Handley said. “I’m glad I get to mix it up with them.
“A lot of the top guys are down there in that region. I want to not only test myself, but see how good I could get.”
Handley is a three-time Texas high school rodeo state finalist, with a top-five finish in bareback riding each year. He’ll look to make his fourth straight trip to the state finals by qualifying this weekend at an event in Midland.
In becoming an Aggie, Handley not only hopes to make a career out of rodeo, but set himself up for success after his days of bareback riding are over.
Handley said he’ll major in animal science to work in a veterinary field when he’s finished competing in rodeos.
“We’ve always kind of preached to our kids — Tyler and his younger brother Travis — that whatever you choose to do, go at it hard, go at it 100 percent and give it 100 percent because you’re going to get out what you put in it,” Tyler’s dad and current Andrews assistant golf coach Todd Handley said.
The Handleys first moved to Andrews from Monahans in the summer of 2014, a few months before Tyler started his freshman year.
Tyler quickly met fellow senior Casey Buck during summer football workouts and has stayed friends with him since. Handley said he has also become close with gridiron teammates Jace Keesee and Beau Narrell.
“You see one of us, there’s probably another of us right behind them,” Handley said.
Buck, Keesee and Narrell had all already signed their letters of intent to play college football at Wayland Baptist, Howard Payne and UTPB respectively.
Now because of rodeo’s different signing period than football, Handley has also now inked to participate in collegiate athletics.
“We were actually mapping it out in our government class yesterday on a map of Texas where we’d all be,” Handley said.
Also signing at Andrews on Wednesday was Aubree Hernandez, who signed with Sul Ross to play softball, and Jacob Harper, who inked to play tennis at UTPB.