Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

The following article is from a segment titled PSN Cowboy Gille with Tracy Renck
published by The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and written by Tracy Renck.
For more information, please see the PRCA website.

Originally Published 10/25/13

Shane_at_NFR_2013_web Shane Slack, 38, finished 11th in the tie-down roping PRCA World Standing with $69,664 to qualify for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo since his rookie year of 1996. Slack, a Choctaw who lives in Idabel, Okla., had a long road back to the WNFR while battling to overcome a drug problem he had suffered through for years. In 1996, when 17-time world champion Trevor Brazile was also a rookie, Slack was the Overall and Tie-down Roping PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year.

What does it mean to you to get back to the WNFR for the first time since 1996? It’s exciting. I’m still kind of shocked. It hasn’t sunk in real good yet. I’m sure it will hit me when I get to Las Vegas (for the Dec. 5-14 WNFR).

How much have you learned from your struggles and daily recover from drugs? The main thing is I have a real close relationship with God now. There is just so much stuff that I’ve learned, that I can’t just pinpoint it to one certain thing. I know where there are tons and tons of things I’ve learned – like the things in life that matter. When you go through the day, things pop up you think are a big deal. But when you go through something like that (his battle with drugs) and you come through it, you realize a lot of things that pop up aren’t really that big of a deal. Like staying mad about something, or just small things that used to be big things, just aren’t anymore.

Who has been the key person in your recovery support system? My daughter, Shaylee, who is 8 years old. When I look at that situation, I know I have to reach down a little further and become the person she can be proud of. I want to be that father figure that I need to be. For sure, that’s a nugget that helps me a lot.

You missed the entire 2001, 2003 and 2005 PRCA season. What kept you from giving up the sport for good? It was one of the hardest things for me to stick out, with the mental stress of wanting to win and having trouble. One night (in 2010) I was in my bed reading and I just felt ready to start back. That’s what triggered it. Then, once I got involved, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. I guess it was just all God’s plan. I wanted to quit a million times, but I would not have felt comfortable with myself it I didn’t stick it out. I wanted to continue each day to live for God, and if I don’t finish one thing, I can’t go to the next thing.

What was it like when you started competing full-time again in 2010? It had been so long. What I got mixed up in, it took a while to figure out who I was and kind of get myself back together. It had been so many years that I had been mixed up in that. Plus, when I came back, it seemed to me guys were tying calves a lot faster.

Do you feel like you can be an inspiration to other people? I feel like with what I’ve been through and everything that I know, some things can help people because I have been through it and I lived it. I know what it’s like when someone wants out of the situation. I know I wanted help, but getting it done took a while. The things I had to do, I feel like I could help a lot of people and be an inspiration to someone.

Have you ever done any motivational speaking? With what I came through, I was in depression because of it for a long time. I can speak more right now (about it) than I have ever been able to. Just by seeking God everyday and letting Him get me to this point, I’m more of a whole person and able to speak. I never spoke much at all about the situation (before) because I just didn’t want to. I avoided situations like that.

How gratifying is it for you to be one of the world’s best tie-down ropers again? I thank God for it every day. It just feels great. I didn’t think I could do it (make it back to the WNFR). Sometimes we lose a little bit of faith along the way at times. I know it has happened (qualifying for the WNFR). It’s just hard for me to believe.

What kind of expectation do you have for the upcoming WNFR? I don’t know what type of expectation I have. I just know I have to work harder than I have ever worked. The competition is so tough. I just want to give myself the best opportunity I can. That’s all I can do.

What are your plans after the WNFR? I really don’t know. I gave it all I had in roping, and I worked to get my body back in shape. I knew if things didn’t work out this year, because of my satisfaction with my relationship with God, if it was revealed to me that it was OK not to go any further, I wouldn’t have kept going. Now that it’s happened the way it has, I don’t know yet. I’m going to do some praying and seeking God about it, and it’s a choice I will have to make. I don’t know the answer right now.