By Joe Kusek
Italy Sheehan had more than just her early 2020 rodeo season taken away.
She had a personal milestone pulled out from under her.
The Shoshone, Idaho barrel racer was scheduled to compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, April 2-4 in Kissimmee, Florida.
But now she has a more important task. She is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a recovery room nurse at the St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Sheehan earned the opportunity to compete at Kissimmee when other barrel racers who finished ahead of her win the 2019 Wilderness Circuit standings opted not to race in Florida.
“I was super-excited,” she said. “I scrambled to get my schedule changed.”
COVID-19 altered those plans. “It royally sucks,” said Sheehan, the granddaughter of PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler and ProRodeo Hall of Famer Bob A. Robinson.
Now she spends her time in the hospital in full protective gear to ensure the safety of herself, her co-workers and patients. At home, she takes care of her two young sons, Diesel and Dually, on the family place where they ranch, raise hay and break horses in Shoshone, Idaho. Her husband Brett, a team roper, is also a manager at a vet clinic.
“Our schedules have changed. The demand at the hospital has increased,” said Sheehan. “And things have changed at home. We wash and re-wash everything. I take off my work clothes before going into the house.”
Sheehan competed in college rodeo for both the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and College of Southern Idaho, where she won All-Around and barrel racing regional titles. Prior to starting a family, she spent several years working in the ER in San Angelo, Texas, before moving back North to be closer to family.
As of April 22, Idaho is currently reporting 1,802 confirmed and probable cases with 54 deaths. In Twin Falls County, where Sheehan works, there were 138 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.
“COVID-19 has rocked our world,” she said.
Be sure to check-out how other WPRA members are handling this unexpected pause in life in the May issue of the WPRA News and a big thanks to Sheehan for working on the front lines!