RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - It’s a rodeo without horses, bulls or clowns, but there is the occasional use of rope: The Kilgore College Electric Power Technology Lineman Rodeo was held at the Kilgore College training field in Rusk County.
The poles at the new facility wait silently to test the students, just hours away from being designated as linemen, if they pass.
Army veteran and Rusk resident Justin Sears is one of the twenty students finishing up the ten-week course.
“I had just got out of the military so I figured why not try a different career path, and this felt like the best way to go,” Sears said.
It wasn’t a completely random choice.
“My wife’s uncle does it and he loves the career. And also my friend does it as well and he always talks about how much he loves it,” Sears stated.
Another guy who seems to love it is Travis Croft. He was a lineman for decades, and he now imparts his wisdom, from on high, to those who crave it.
“I’ve been a guest judge before, and instructor before over probably the last 5-6 years helping them off and on, but this is my first time to come and actually be an instructor in the program. It is fantastic,” Croft said.
Well, who wouldn’t have that kind of attitude with a view like he’s got?
“When I first heard about it, it kind of surprised me that they even asked me about being an instructor, or even considering it because I’ve always been a lineman,” Croft revealed.
The college obviously felt thirty years of experience qualified Croft as an instructor. He was encouraging Justin in the recovering the hurt man test.
“Great group of young guys here. Real smart, real fast in learning; come together as a team, they’re just fantastic people to be around,” Croft stated.
“The guys you come to class with, you know you don’t know them, and over time we became like brothers. The instructors are excellent. They’re very knowledgeable,” Sears said.
“Do heights bother you?” I asked Sears.
“Originally they did but I got used to them over time,” Sears smiled
“Do you think one of these guys is going to be your replacement?” I asked Croft while we were both up high in the bucket truck.
“I hope so. I really do, I hope so. These guys have the ability,” Croft replied.
“Okay, now please take me down,” I suggested.
“Okay, not a problem, hang on,” Croft laughed.
And so the poles empty again and wait patiently for the next group to come on down the line.
This is the twenty-first graduating class of linemen, and the second using the new training field. Nearly all of the students come out of the class with jobs.