Rodeo Lures UW Linebacker From Hawaii

Nov. 10, 1999


By Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

When you think of rodeo, you don't think of Hawaii.But believe it or not, rodeo does exist in Hawaii.Leo Caires is a junior linebacker on the University of Wyoming footballteam, who hails from Maui, Hawaii. Not only was Caires a standout linebackerand tight end at Maui High School, he was a state champion bull rider and steer wrestler, as well as the area all-around champion for his high schoolrodeo team.

?When I came to Wyoming, I wasn?t thinking about playing football at first,I came to try to rodeo,? Caires said. ?But when I was here, I came to one ofthe football games and I told myself that I had to get out there again.?When Caires was a freshman, he practiced with the UW rodeo team, but decidedto give that up to play football. Last season, his first with the team, herecorded eight tackles and half a quarterback sack.

This season, Caires has seen extensive playing time as a backup at weak-sidelinebacker behind junior Cortney Barnes. Caires has 20 total tackles, onetackle for loss, one fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.Caires first experienced rodeo in Wyoming when he was in high school. He wasa participant at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, andafter that experience, Caires knew he wanted to get back to the CowboyState.

While Wyoming is arguably one of the top rodeo states in the country, Cairessaid rodeo is alive and well in Hawaii.

?It surprises a lot of people, but rodeo is pretty big there,? said Caires,who also participates in calf roping and team roping. ?The coach gets kindof mad, but I go back home during the summer, rodeo a little bit and try tomake some money to pay the bills.?So what's more exhilarating for Caires, a big hit on a running back orriding a bull for eight seconds?

?That's hard to say,? Caires said. ?In bull riding you get such anadrenaline rush, but I think I would lean more toward the football side --maybe rodeo, too.?