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Sharon (Casey) Norman

Inducted 2007

Casey currently resides in Evanston Colorado, where she is the Mayor. She was born on January 8, 1944, 20 miles south of Rapid City, South Dakota on her family ranch. Her love of animals, ranching chores and rodeo, while growing up on the family ranch, started her rodeo career.

Casey is a spirited, inquisitive and a fearless individual. She attended school in a one room school house and belonged to the school's track and field team running long distance races, high jumping, gymnastics, softball and basketball.

In 1960 Casey was crowned Ranch Days Rodeo Queen, placed first in the parade event and competition in the rodeo (barrel racing, keyhole racing, best dressed and best horse performance). Casey was so determined to participate in this event she rode her horse "Flip" from home to the competition and slept in the horse stall because her family could not afford a hotel room. Her father drove a stock truck to the event and that is where she stored her show clothes. Many times, she changed clothes outdoors in the mud.

Casey and her friend, Lorraine, were to demonstrate a bull riding exhibition; however, Lorraine backed out. Casey's name had already been announced, therefore she was committed. Although she had ridden horses, bulls and steers for some time, this would be her first time on a Brahma bull. She was frightened and crying but told the chute hands to open the chute anyway. As she described the experience "It was like riding an enormous ocean wave, or dancing, where the bull led and you had no choice but to follow." The next thing she knew she was on the ground and could only appreciate the good taste of the dirt.

In 1961 at the Triple "T" Ranch (Custer, South Dakota) Casey was dared to ride a buffalo. When she was told she couldn't ride a buffalo, her response was "Put him in the chute." The buffalo did not buck but he sped her around the arena several times before she "bailed." That day, Casey won the Little Britches Rodeo.

Throughout the years, Casey Tibbs, who lived 90 miles away and was a friend of the family, taught Casey Norman a lot. He was her mentor, and worked with her regularly, developing her skills in bareback, bronc and bull riding. She learned quickly and soon earned the nickname "Casey Jr." When Casey Tibbs knew that her potentials were set in motion and she was on the road to becoming all she could be, the "Jr." was dropped and Sharon officially became "Casey Norman."

At 18 years of age Casey saw a sign that said, "Join the Navy. See the World". She tried to enlist, but in her jeans and cowboy boots, she looked 12 years old. Since school was the furthest from her mind, she didn't have a High School diploma or GED, so she was not able to enlist.

Casey soon received a call at home from M-G-M. M-G-M had seen her picture in the newspaper, read about her accomplishments and wanted her to be an extra in a movie. Again she went dressed in her everyday jeans, boots and cowboy hat. She was among the first three chosen as extras. The next thing she knew she was asked to be a stunt woman for Debbie Reynolds in "How the West Was Won." Casey was dressed up for the movie as Debbie Reynolds in a bison scene. Casey worked in a stunt scene with 600 stampeding buffalo in Custer State Park. After being a stuntwoman for this movie M-G-M asked her to continue as a stunt woman in Hollywood. She declined the offer.

Instead she went to the School of Mines to obtain her G E D. After this accomplishment in 1962, she finally joined the Navy to see the world. She was on her Navy drill team and soon became Master at Arms of her barracks. Casey admitted she needed the Navy's discipline. Casey also admits her appreciation for everything she endured and conquered in the Navy. In July of 1962 Casey entered the Navy swimming meet for the 50 and 100 yard free style and 50 yard dash events, where she became champion of the 50 yard dash and the 50 yard free style events. During Casey's Navy days she continued to go to rodeos and ride bulls. This may have been fine in the west, but was not considered lady-like on the east coast. She was given military orders by her supervisor to stop participating in rodeo competitions. After 3 years, Casey left the Navy with an Honorable Discharge, to explore a new way of life and expand on her personal expectations.

Enjoying a brilliant, rewarding and flawless 19-year career with Martin Marietta, Casey was well on her way to achieving her biggest dream ever - to become the first Female Fire Chief in America. She successfully completed her interview; however, with less than the 6 credits needed to earn her Associates in Fire Science and to enter this position, Casey had an unfortunate accident. While riding with her nephew, Casey's horse Honeymoon, had a heart attack and the horse fell on Casey. When all was quiet, Casey was freed from underneath the horse and taken to the hospital. She was diagnosed with soft tissue damage. After a two week leave from work, Casey returned to her paramedic training. Still in pain she returned to her doctor where it was diagnosed that she had a spiral break down her back. As a result she has 5 titanium rods and 3 titanium discs - they literally fused her together front and back. Her whole life changed in seconds. This was devastating for Casey who loved her job and had worked hard to make it up the ladder. Casey had to accept a medical retirement from her job.

Casey soon returned to rodeo participation, not riding or in exhibitions, but as a judge for rodeos and announcer at Gymkhanas. She was a weekly announcer at the Wild West Stables in Colorado for guite some time. She taught bronc riding, barrel racing and also tought bull riding at the Ford Arena in Denver.

In 1982, the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association heard of Casey's rodeo experience and recruited her to assist with their rodeo team. Casey joined the association and using her past rodeo experience, began training the CGRA's rodeo team. All funding was provided by donations and exhibitions CGRA held in the parking lot of Charlie's in Denver.

In 1983 Casey started the first Chute Coordinator Certification Program. She continued mentoring the Arena Director Certification Program as well as the Judges Certification Program, which were approved by the IGRA Directors. She assisted in writing the first rodeo rules for the Association.

Throughout her 20 years of rodeo involvement, Casey officiated at over one hundred rodeos as Arena Director or Senior Judge. She retired quietly for medical reasons.

Casey recalls that being involved with the association was another wonderful experience, and relishes that as a female in those days, she was always treated with respect. Casey expresses her thanks to all those involved in the Rodeo Association saying "You're all wonderful people. Thank you for another rewarding and exciting journey in my life."

Today, Casey owns rental property, a jewelry company called "Peddlers West", a small security business and operates the "Rocking 7 Lazy L Tennessee Walker Ranch Facility" where she trains horses, breeds mares, teaches riding, cares for ranch animals, and participates in community parades.

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