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September 08, 2008 7:36 am

NWC student, rodeo athlete to be featured on Fox stations

Written by Tribune Staff

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Cameraman Jim Abel of Billings, focuses on Sylvan La Cross as La Cross evaluates cattle at the Northwest College Livestock Pavillion on Saturday. On the left, filming assistant Justin Fonda of Bozeman, Mont., holds a boom microphone overhead to capture the sound. LaCross, who recently earned associate degrees in agriculture business and farm and ranch management, will be the subject of an episode of “The Real Winning Edge” on many Fox stations nationwide. The episode tentatively is scheduled to air in February. Tribune photo by Ilene Olson

So far, Sylvan La Cross' life journey hasn't been an easy one — but he says the hardships he's faced during his 20 years made him stronger.
His determination through adversity and his refusal to make excuses resulted in La Cross being chosen as an example for other youth to follow.
La Cross, who graduated from Northwest College in May, will be featured in a new Fox television show, “The Real Winning Edge,” sometime early next year.
The series' producer and a film crew were in Powell on Saturday to film La Cross for the reality series aimed at teens.
La Cross, of Red Lodge, Mont., describes himself as a “pretty darned clean-cut guy. I try to lead a good life, being polite and well-mannered, being thankful for every day we get.”
His mother, Patricia La Cross, died in June after an 11-year battle against a rare, critical illness.
Because his parents were divorced, his mother's illness meant La Cross and his younger brother, Logan, assumed much of the responsibility for running the family's eight-room motel in Cooke City, Mont.

From the time he was in fourth grade through seventh grade, “We pretty much formed a team between the three of us,” he said. “We never hired anyone. When my mom was still able, she cleaned the rooms herself. I was taking reservations, running credit-card machines, checking people in and out and basically trying to run an eight-room motel.”
His mother's need for closer medical care prompted the family to move to Red Lodge the summer before La Cross entered the eighth grade. The summer move gave the boys a chance to make friends and get a little taste of life in their new community before entering a larger school system.
Still, La Cross describes his life after their move to Red Lodge as “kind of abnormal.”
“We still took care of big chores and stuff at home,” he said. “We made sure wood was chopped, the dogs were taken care of and helped with the house — a lot of things you don't see a lot of kids doing these days.
“We didn't get to hang out a lot. It kept me out of a lot of stuff, but in a way, I learned a lot from it.”
While her illness prevented his mother from helping around the house as much as she would have liked, La Cross credits her for contributing to something that was, perhaps, even more important: his character.
Besides her good example, “She just pushed us to be the good person — to strive and set big goals, and when you're in public, be polite and open the door, do all the things you should do.
“I'm thankful for it,” he added. “I've had a lot of people I meet say thank you for being such a good person. I just say, ‘That's why I'm here.'”
Though he lived with his mother, he said he has a good relationship with his dad as well.
Along the way, La Cross became involved in rodeoing, participating in the sport at the high-school level and then at NWC. In addition, he has rodeoed professionally at the Cody Nite Rodeo over the past three years. On Friday, he placed second in average over the finals and earned the title of year-end champion in bareback riding for the third year in a row. The film crew was on hand to capture that moment as well.
But he didn't let his rodeo focus alter his focus on his education. Over the past two years at NWC, he has earned a 3.92 grade-point average while carrying a class load of at least 18 credit hours.
“My last year there was a 4.0 year, all year,” he said. “There was a couple classes I didn't know how I pulled it off, but I stuck it through.”
He earned two associate degrees in two years — one in agriculture business, and the other in farm and ranch management. He now is continuing his education and rodeo career at the University of Idaho.
Producer Kathleen Watson of Challenger Films in Atlanta said she chose La Cross for the series segment after reviewing applications from him and and three other students recommended by the Montana High School Rodeo Association.
“I wanted to feature someone in this part of the country,” she said. “I felt like he had an inspirational story, and that's what we're looking for.
“His story is not to let anything be excuses — to be responsible for his own life.”
She noted that La Cross was responsible for his own higher education, for finding and qualifying for scholarships, for furthering his rodeo training and “for achieving his dream himself.”
“I feel like all his friends, through interviews with people who knew him, even more brought out the story of just what a driven, tenacious individual he is,” she said.
La Cross' example shows that “No matter what happens in your life, you can go out there and make it happen,” she said.