It’s not everyday that Willie Sellars jumps on the back of a rodeo bull.
The Williams Lake Indian Band councillor, Stampeders hockey netminder, father of three and celebrated children’s book author shocked many in the crowd Friday evening by entering the bull riding event at the 28th Annual Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo.
And, he also garnered a little help from a fellow goaltender — none other than the Montreal Canadiens’ and Anahim Lake’s Carey Price.
“This was just like the fourth time in my life I’d ridden a bull,” Sellars told the Tribune. “And Carey Price is there to pull my rope. You couldn’t have scripted it any better unless I [stayed on the eight seconds]. That was some experience for me, and having [Price] there was just a bonus.”
Sellars drew nasty C+ Rodeos bull, Ellis’s Holy Roller.
With just one practice ride under his belt from the previous evening, Sellars said Price approached him behind the bucking chutes Friday night and asked if he could hold his rope as he prepared for his ride.
“I was pretty pumped,” he said. “That’s the first time I met him, really, but I guess he knows who I am. He’s really friendly with all the cowboys and loves rodeo like any Williams Laker, and he was keen on it, and I was stoked. It wasn’t something that was premeditated.”
Sellars’ decision to enter bull riding was inspired by an upcoming children’s book he’s working on: Rodeo with Dad, which will follow in the footsteps of his two previous books, Dipnetting with Dad and Hockey with Dad.
In Hockey with Dad, Sellars introduces a new character at the end named Big Brother.
“Right now I have Older Sister and Younger Brother, but at the end of Hockey with Dad I introduce Older Brother, and he’s going to be in Rodeo with Dad and he’s going to be the steer rider. That’s going to be my oldest son, so I’m loosely basing these characters around my family.”
And what better way to work on his book, he thought, than to take in the experience first hand and to knock another challenge off his bucket list.
Competing in a big rodeo is always something he’s wanted to do, he said.
“This is the genesis of rodeo,” Sellars said, who drew on his athletic background in preparation.
Sellars said he was in great shape and worked hard to prepare himself as much as he could by riding horses, working on his balance and attending yoga classes for the past three months.
“I warmed up just like I’d warm up for a big game, and I got to take in that whole moment on the bull and with Price and I really soaked it in. I was just keen on the whole experience from start to finish and just loved it. I love rodeo.”
The moment, however, was unlike any other, he said.
“I played really well at the Coy Cup in front of my hometown, made big saves and had some big moments in front of a packed barn, and nothing I’ve ever done even competes with the rush of bull riding. Not a single thing.”
Price was seen throughout the weekend in Williams Lake taking in the rodeos and social events as well as signing autographs and taking pictures with his many local fans.