Bucking Trend, He Hangs Out With His Kind of Dudes

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Forgive Joaquin Real if he sometimes feels out of place attending Ventura High, but he’s a teenage cowboy surrounded by surfers and skateboarders.

“I’m probably the only one in school who wears a belt buckle, keeps my shirt tucked in and has my clothes starched,” Real said.

Real is a saddle bronco rider who competes in rodeos. Riding a wild horse for eight seconds is what he does best. Riding a surfboard for even one second is what he does worst.


“I tried that once or twice,” he said. “I was doing pretty good until I fell off and the board hit me in the head and I said, ‘That’s it.’ I’m not much for being in the ocean with sharks.”

Real, 5 feet 6 and 150 pounds, was selected by Ventura’s football coaches to replace Tyler Ebell as the team’s starting tailback.

“It’s kind of scary in a way,” Real said.

Ebell set the national high school rushing record last season with 4,494 yards and scored 64 touchdowns. He received a scholarship to UCLA.

Real is hoping to land a scholarship--but not in football. He wants one for rodeo. He finished 13th out of more than 200 high school competitors at the national rodeo championships in July in Illinois.

He lives on a ranch in Ojai, takes care of six horses, knows how to milk a cow, drive cattle and shovel manure.

His football coaches aren’t thrilled he’s going to compete in a few rodeos during the season.


“They don’t really agree with me too much, but I don’t think I’m big enough to play college ball,” he said. “I love the game and I give it all I have.”

In his first two games as a starter, Real has rushed for 112 and 84 yards, respectively, in victories over Simi Valley and Moorpark.

Just having Real on the field provides a boost to teammates, Coach Brad Steward said.

“He makes the attitude of the entire team tough,” Steward said. “He cowboys up.”

Football would seem gentle compared to trying to stay on top of a bucking horse.

“Rodeo is like a one-on-one deal between me and the horse,” Real said. “You get a grade on how hard the horse bucks and how good you ride him. They’re born to buck. Falling off is very bad. It’s not good for your health. It’s good for the horse. It builds the horse’s confidence so it bucks harder and harder.”

Real said he has never been seriously injured in football or rodeo, but the 18-year-old senior picks football as more dangerous.

“Football can be very violent,” he said. “You’re always getting hit.”

Real has proven he can take hits and handle the wildest horses, too.

Now if only his younger brother, Jesse, could teach him to surf and skateboard.

“My brother gives me heck because he can skateboard and I can’t skateboard worth a darn,” Real said.


When Bill Redell, coach at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last month in South Bend, Ind., he was invited to play in a five-on-five flag football game with John Elway, Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Allen and Johnny Rodgers, and quarterback Doug Williams.


The 60-year-old Redell declined at first, thinking he was too old and too slow. By halftime, when the score was tied, 14-14, Redell decided he had to play. He ended up catching the game-winning two-point conversion pass from Elway.

“The place went crazy because there was this bald-headed, fat guy catching the ball,” Redell said.

Elway received the trophy for most valuable player. Redell went up and told him, “John, you’ve won so many MVP awards, how about giving it to me?”

Elway replied, “I’m keeping this one.”

Redell, honored for his days as a quarterback and defensive back at Occidental College, said, “It was a very humbling weekend.”


All-City wide receiver Steve Smith of Woodland Hills Taft received a letter from UCLA Coach Bob Toledo on Sept. 1 offering him a scholarship more than 16 months before he can sign a letter of intent.

“I was excited,” said Smith, a junior who should receive many scholarship offers.... Responding to criticism directed at his team’s performance against Newhall Hart two weeks ago, Coach Ed Lalu of Wilmington Banning said he is remorseful for the actions of two players who were ejected and promises that their behavior will not be repeated.



Eric Sondheimer can be reached at