Athletes from Hawaii Compete in NJHFR

Athletes from Hawaii Compete in NJHFR

June 22, 2016

Nashville TN

Dee Dee Bertelmann and her golf cart full of rodeo contestants from Hawaii were trying to escape the Tennessee humidity.

“It’s hot in Hawaii,” Bertelmann, the province secretary for Hawaii rodeo, said. “But the humidity is nothing like it is here.”

Bertelmann explained that the Hawaii team, made up of eight competitors, had faced a serious disappointment on Monday. Trisyn Kalawaia, who had planned to compete in bareback riding, team roping, chute dogging, breakaway and goat roping, only made it to two events before he was bucked off of his horse and broke his arm.

“He didn’t warm [his horse] up good, that’s why,” Westin Joseph, Kalawaia’s partner in the team roping event, joked.

With his broken arm wrapped in a black sling, Kalawaia jokingly urged other team ropers to “warm up your horse twice. Not once; twice.”

The event was disheartening for the whole team. Joseph and Kalawaia were in the top ten for team roping, and now, even Joseph cannot advance. Kalawaia and Joseph’s family, who traveled the 16 hours to Lebanon, Tennessee for the first time as well, were equally disappointed by the injury.

“They’re bummed that they don’t get to see me compete anymore,” Kalawaia said. “It kinda sucks.”  

Despite the disappointment and the humidity, the NJHFR is still an exciting week for the Hawaii team.  For many members of the team, it is their first time to compete at a rodeo of this size. This is also the first time that Joseph, Kalawaia, and their teammate Kaleo Simmons have ever been to the southern part of the U.S.

Despite the heat, Simmons said he has enjoyed his time in the South so far.

“The people around here are really nice," Simmons said. “It’s been really fun to be here and be blessed with this opportunity to come to Tennessee and compete.”

While new to the National Junior High Rodeo, all three boys have been immersed in Western Sports since they were five-years-old. Kalawaia said that at this point, the Hawaii rodeo team feels like one big family.

“We help each other out,” Kalawaia said. “We help each other with roping and setting up for the bulls and stuff. We tell each other good job. It’s like a family.”

Kalawaia, who has resolved to spend the rest of his time at the rodeo “sleeping and supporting his friends," joked that he won’t be coming back to Lebanon whether he wants to or not. He, Simmons, and Joseph will all be graduating to the National High School Finals Rodeo next year.

“We’re getting old,” he said.

Watch highlights from the National Jr. High Finals Rodeo in Lebanon, TN on the weekly series, “CINCH NHSRA Rodeo,” Wednesdays at 2 PM ET and Sundays at 12:30 PM ET starting July 31 and running through August 28. Get the full schedule at

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