CASA GRANDE — Toy Cordova of Florence has ridden saddle broncs, bulls and is a regular rodeo roper, but he said ranch rodeo competitions, rather than traditional rodeo action, is where the fun is.

For the eighth consecutive year, Cordova, an amateur and professional rodeo champion, will take part in the Casa Grande Cowboy Days ranch rodeo on Feb. 22 and 23.

He’ll also be one of two grand marshals in the 2020 Cowboy Days & O’Odham Tash parade, which will roll down Florence Boulevard beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15. Each year the parade includes two grand marshals — one who represents the cowboy lifestyle and one who represents one of the four area Native American communities.

“I am very honored to be one of the grand marshals,” said Cordova, who will represent the cowboy lifestyle in the parade.

Cordova, 54, is the general manager of a ranch in Superior. Rodeo has long been a part of his life.

As a teen, he participated in high school rodeo events, taking part in dozens of regional championships for bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding.

After high school, he attended Central Arizona College from 1985 to 1987 and was a part of the school’s rodeo team when Varr Myers, a longtime professor of diesel and heavy equipment technology, headed the CAC rodeo program.

Cordova, who earned a general technology degree from CAC, went on to win the men’s all-around national title in 1986 with Myers as his coach.

“I thank my mom and dad for everything during high school rodeo and college days. I don’t think I would have even went to college if it wasn’t for Varr Myers and I thank him for that,” Cordova said.

After college, Cordova continued on the pro and amateur rodeo circuits for several years.

“I won multiple rodeos and won quite a lot,” he said.

His most recent rough stock win was in the 2009 Sonoita Amateur Rodeo in 2009. At the age of 44, Cordova competed in bareback riding.

“I had to prove to all the youngsters that I still had it,” he said. “I have also won the wild horse race in Sonoita a couple times.”

About eight years ago, he started competing in ranch rodeos.

He recently became a member of the Arizona Cowpunchers’ Association, with a membership of working cowboys, their families and associates who celebrate the camaraderie among working cowboys and the activities they perform on a daily basis. Winning in the group’s annual reunion rodeo recently was “a great accomplishment.”

The Arizona Cowpunchers annual Reunion Rodeo is unusual as its competitions are ranch based.

“It’s real cowboys doing competitive events and enjoying what they do,” Cordova said. “I won the wild horse race, wild cow milking and the incentive calf roping, all within the past five years.”

Attendees to the Cowboy Days & O’Odham Tash ranch rodeo on Feb. 22 and 23 will also see working cowboys competing in similar events.

“I will be participating in the ranch rodeo in Casa Grande this year with all my buddies,” he said “I have always enjoyed ranch work and rodeoing. Ranch rodeos are a great fit for me. I get to hang out with my friends and have a great time competing.”

When he’s not participating in rodeos or managing the ranch, Cordova enjoys roping and babysitting his grandkids.

He and his wife, Artie, have been married for 30 years. They have three adult children, Jessie, Jake and Devin.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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