Ropers Sports News | March 2023

PAGE 38 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS MARCH 2023 Stephen (Steve) Charles Naillon was born in the O’Connor Hospital on June 10, 1960, in San Jose, California to George and Janet Naillon. He passed away on February 9, 2023, at the age of 62 after a long battle with colon cancer. Steve lived most of his childhood in the Bay Area before moving to Auburn, California in 1970. He landed his first job at the age of 15 working for Nate Hilmick of Meadow Vista doing underground construction. Steve attended school, played football, rode horses, and eventually graduated from Placer High School. Living off Mount Vernon Road in Auburn across the street from the Semas Ranch is where Steve’s love of horses and roping began. Stanley and Sandra Semas, along with their children, took Steve under their wings and flourished his talent for roping. He participated in junior rodeos, high school rodeos, and local ropings, as a heeler with his best friend, Mike Flanigan. Being an avid roper eventually landed him at the 1988 Bob Feist Invitational with Mike Brewer, one of his proudest career moments. Steve traveled all over to ropings and rodeos, upon meeting his first wife, Leslie Tonelli in 1989, and became a stepfather to her son Grant. They were married, lived in Greenwood, California and soon after came the twins, Logan and Cole, in 1990. Raising three boys, Steve became very active in the community with baseball, junior rodeos, and high school rodeos. Steve served as the President of the California High School Rodeo Association District 3 from 2006 to 2008. He worked for multiple construction companies, before starting his own house flipping business. Steve later worked as the grounds manager for Auburn Lake Trails. Steve began dating the love of his life, Jackie Martain, in 2011 and were recently married in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in November of 2022. They resided in their dream home in Pilot Hill where they enjoyed yard work, coin collecting, traveling to see family and to Cabo, Mexico quite often. It was their dream to own a ranch in New Mexico one day. Steve’s greatest accomplishment of all were his boys. He said success to him was seeing how his boys turned out and the lives they’ve created are turning out. He served as a role model to all 3 of his boys by living by these three things: smile, be honest and be happy. He said if he can’t make tomorrow better for himself, he hoped he could make it better for someone else. Steve is survived by his siblings, Tom Naillon of Prineville, Oregon, Lynda (Jack) Dougherty of Auburn, Joan Cass of Texas; his wife Jackie Naillon of Pilot Hill; three sons Grant (Chelsi) Tonelli of Placerville, Logan (Sara) Naillon of Chowchilla, and Cole Naillon of Whitesboro, Texas; three stepchildren; Derek (Kylie) Martain of Exeter, Kayla Martain of Pilot Hill, and Madison Martain of Pilot Hill; grandson Rowly Naillon; and step grandchildren Tinley and Willow Martain. Steve has touched so many lives throughout the community; he will be greatly missed by all. There will be a Celebration of Life at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the Semas Ranch (10940 Mount Vernon Road, Auburn, California 95603). Services have been entrusted to the Lassila Funeral Chapel in Auburn, California. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in memory of Steve Naillon to the California High School Rodeo Association District 3, please contact Sara Naillon. Safe & Easy To Use! Contact Jim Yarbrough (559) 875-8548 3385 N. Academy Ave. • Sanger, CA 93657 US Patent 6775965B2 Roper’s Quick Release Steve Naillon Steve Naillon Jordon Briggs’ ROLLO Named PRCA/AQHA Horse Of The Year Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet “Rollo” have taken the ProRodeo world by storm the past two seasons. Rollo was named the Nutrena Barrel Racing Horse of the Year presented by AQHA in both 2021 and 2022. Now in 2023, the dominant duo can add another impressive title to their resume. After a vote by fans, Rollo was named the overall winner for PRCA | AQHA Horse of the Year. The voting included all seven of the 2022 Horse of the Year winners by event. Riding Rollo, Briggs captured the 2021 PRCA World Championship. Over the past two seasons she earned $571,980 aboard the nineyear-old horse. Briggs said she never imagined Rollo would be able to accomplish what he has in his short career. “It’s truly an honor, especially given that we didn’t have the Finals we exactly hoped for,” said Briggs, a three-time NFR qualifier. “There were definitely some other horses of the year that did have great NFRs. So, I just appreciate so much that people saw how hard he still tried and that he’s still an amazing horse no matter what. “He has done amazing things the last three years that I didn’t even think were possible to accomplish in that short amount of time. For him to be the soul income of my family right now and to just enjoy that process while we can has been a huge blessing.” Briggs and Rollo will hit the rodeo road again this winter with their sights set on their third consecutive trip to Las Vegas next December. “He’s only nine years old, so he still has a lot of his career ahead of him hopefully,” she said. “We are just getting ready for the winter rodeos and hoping we can do good at those. So, that we can have an easy year and I can take care of Rollo the way he deserves to be taken care of.” Jordon Briggs wonder horse, Rollo was named the overall winner for PRCA/AQHA Horse of the Year. The voting included all seven of the 2022 Horse of the Year winners by event. – 2021 NFR PRCA ProRodeo Photo By Phillip Kitts ProRodeo Photographer Jim Svoboda Passes Courtesy Jim Svoboda, a legendary ProRodeo photographer for 66 years, passed away on Feb. 19. He was 88. “He told me last week he was going out happy and wanted us to be happy,” said son Von, one of Svoboda’s three children. Svoboda graduated in 1956 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He worked 33 years for the USDA as County Executive Officer for the Agriculture Stabilization Conservation Service serving Garfield, Loup, and Wheeler Counties until he retired in 1989. He also owned a ranch with his wife and family north of Burwell, Neb., prior to his retirement, where they owned a registered Hereford operation. The sport of rodeo, however, was his passion. Svoboda spent nearly 20 years as a successful four event all-around rodeo competitor, competing in steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, and bull riding. His best streak was 54 bareback rides in a row. He filled his PRCA permit in 1958 and received his PRCA Gold card in 1984. A severely broken leg forced Svoboda to become a full-time rodeo photographer. With more than three million photos shot and nearly 40 cameras worn out, Svoboda was a true legend in the rodeo photography industry. He was recognized as the 2008 PRCA Photographer of the Year. Svoboda retired at his hometown rodeo in Burwell, Neb., in 2021. He first attended Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell in 1946. “The one thing about dad is that he was very meticulous on the record keeping aspect of it (his photos),” Von said. “If anybody would say ‘Do you have a picture back at Pendleton in whatever year,’ dad would go back and say ‘Yep, I have that.’ He had a system where he kept track of each of the individual cowboys and to this day if someone would call him, he would have an envelope of all their proofs of everything he took. I don’t know if there is a rodeo he didn’t photograph. He went from the northwest to the First Frontier Circuit in New Jersey down to Florida.” Svoboda had this to say when asked how he decided where to put himself to take the best rodeo shots in an article written by Anne Christensen in the Oct. 24, 2008, issue of the ProRodeo Sports News.? “I try to figure out the angle from each chute and where they will end up, then get out in front of the action and not just shoot the bucking horses’ rear end,” Svoboda said. “The most dangerous event to photograph is saddle bronc riding. One time I was standing on the fence, and my feet were at least six feet off the ground. That bronc kicked and got me right between the shoulder blades. Now I stay out of everyone’s way, I darn sure don’t want to mess up somebody’s run. I’m getting older. I figure out the best place to get run over – and I stand somewhere else. If you’re on the inside, you might be running while you should be taking the picture, so sometimes I stand outside the fence, and I keep my stuff back. First-timers will use their tripods right next to the fence; here comes a guy swinging his loop and he catches the lights or camera. “Rodeo is the toughest photography there is. The worst thing is dust – I always tell the committees that the audience doesn’t like it either. No one wants a gritty hot dog.” Svoboda won numerous awards and buckles during his rodeo career including four coveted PRCA award buckles: “Sports News Best Action Photo,” “Best Action Rodeo Photo,” “PRCA Best in Photo Journalism,” and “Las Vegas National Finals Rodeo Official Photographer,” a feat no other photographer has ever accomplished. Svoboda was preceded in death by his parents James, Sr., and Margaret (Walkowiak) Svoboda, one brother and three sisters. Svoboda is survived by his wife Marilyn, three children, Tana Brinkman (Jim), Jason Von Svoboda (Angela), JonBen Svoboda (AnneMarie), seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren, two brothers and four sisters. At Svoboda’s request, he wanted a private graveside service and in lieu of flowers send remembrance memorials to the family which will be collectively donated in his honor to the Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell.

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