Herriman City honors fallen PRCA announcer Chad Nicholson at this year’s rodeo
Jul 03, 2019 02:42PM
● By Jennifer Gardiner
Riderless Horse ceremony for Chad Nicholson
By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected]
A riderless horse entered the arena during the Herriman Rodeo in June. Its significance was greater than most had realized.
“For someone who has been here at Herriman for so many years, tonight we ride into the arena with a riderless horse, with boots turned backwards, signifying the death of a soldier or a fallen comrade, said Reed Flake, the weekend’s rodeo announcer.
The ceremony paid tribute to their fallen comrade, Chad Nicholson, who was the voice of the Herriman Rodeo and other Pony Express PRCA Rodeos since 1993. Nicholson tragically died a week before the event.
“We will miss his powerful voice and shining smile,” said Flake.
A former United States Marine, Nicholson is widely known for his powerful voice, smooth delivery, as well as his signature American flag tribute, “If Old Glory could speak,” typically performed in the opening ceremony. He made his home in northern Utah in the summertime and in Three Rivers, California, in the winter.
Flake said Nicholson was always willing to help others and that is what he was doing when tragedy struck.
“He was helping someone in need,” Flake said. “He always put others before himself.”
Nicholson was also influential in helping young rodeo announcers. In 2005, at the nudging of his friend, Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Announcer Bob Tallman, he opened the Chad Nicholson Rodeo Announcer's Training Seminar, which is held every year in Ft. Worth, Texas. Over 14 years, the seminar has seen more than 130 students from the U.S., Canada and Australia.
“He and his wife, Jennifer Welch Nicholson, operated the world-famous Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls trick riding and roping, along with a board of directors to run the nonprofit educational organization for young women,” said Flake. “We want to recognize a great individual who has given so much to the sport of rodeo. Thank you, Chad. You will be greatly missed.”
A moment of silence was held in his honor.
According to his obituary, Nicholson fell into the business by accident while working for a radio station while he was in college. He was asked to announce a local junior rodeo and never stopped announcing pro rodeos and various other events in 39 states, Canada and Australia throughout his career.
Nicholson was a busy man who worked more than 100 performances a year. He emceed the 2018 PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas; he was the 2015 Women's Pro Rodeo Association Announcer of the Year; he was the emcee for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Welcome Reception. He was the Announcer of the Year in 1994–96 for the California Cowboys Pro Rodeo Association and 13-time PRCA Ram Circuit Finals Announcer. From 2008 to 2012, he was the lead commentator for the Pro Roughstock series TV show.
When Nicholson wasn’t announcing rodeos, he voiced over commercials, including being the voice of the talking dog and liner voice on the FarmersOnly.com. In 2010, he co-announced the World Equestrian Games’ opening ceremonies in Lexington, Kentucky. He has worked at major NASCAR tracks announcing Monster Truck Shows and has worked various Equestrian Show productions. In 2012, he was a part of the crew for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's 60th Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
The 50-year-old Nicholson died on May 17 in Woodlake, California. According to the Sun Gazette, Nicholson was killed while four-wheeling in a jeep near Badger when a tow rope snapped, and the jeep Nicholson was in went down a 40-foot embankment.
Born and raised in Texas, Nicholson became a Marine right after high school and left for California. After completing his service, he attended Carrollton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture.
Nicholson’s funeral was held June 13 at the Three Rivers Lions Roping Arena in Three Rivers, California. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Welch Nicholson; brother-in-law Mark Welch; father-in-law, Dennis Welch; and many relatives still in Texas.