HPD Calf Scramble Posse members turn out to be matchmakers by ‘performing’ real marriage between two successful scramblers

Tom Kennedy

The HPD Calf Scramble Posse – whose annual job is preparing nightly calf scramblers for their undaunted tasks – has officially gotten into the marriage business.

Two scramblers that Posse members “matched” three years ago at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo have actually tied the knot.

Well, the Posse theoretically “married” them – even using halters, no less – just before they each entered the arena at NRG Stadium and came away with calves! That was three years ago.

The Posse ‘Marriage’

Hollywood could make a movie about the calf-scrambling love story of Brooke Craigen and Hunter Green, all because of the Posse capturing its man – and the right woman to go with him.

Let’s turn it over to HPOU 1st Vice President and Posse leader Doug Griffith to fill you in:

“Officers of the Calf Scramble Posse have spent years working with kids in different ways to get them to relax and enjoy their time at the Rodeo.

“Many of these kids come in nervous and not really knowing what to expect.  One way that we get them to ‘loosen up’ is a skit that has been done for well over 30 years.

“During this time, officers speak to the parents and the kids about what will soon be happening. We discuss how officers will be escorting the kids over to the stadium and how they must be escorted by an officer if they need to go to the bathroom or to get food or drink.

“At the end of this session we pick two scramblers who will be our ‘scramblers for the evening.’

“We pick a boy and girl who we think will be good sports and have a pretend wedding and proclaim them scramblers for the evening.

“We try to make it fun and lighthearted and something that the kids will always remember.”

Brooke and Hunter’s “marriage” on the night of March 9, 2013 was a very special, unforgettable event.

Harken back to our Hollywood scenario:

Hunter grew up in a small town 40 miles north of Dallas. He was active in sports and always loved animals of all kinds. He knew the Ag teacher as well as he knew the football coach. Brooke pleasantly resided in the rural confines of Sour Lake, a fraction the size of Anna, in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area.

When the Houston Rodeo rolled around in 2013, Hunter had his sights set on outwitting and outrunning anybody necessary to get his halter on a calf.

For Brooke it was a tougher trail.

When her Ag teacher told her students it was time to sign up for the calf scramble, Brooke learned she might be too small. Yet she had the energetic desire to compete. She was lighter than the minimum 104 pounds needed to qualify.

“My mom said, ‘If your little 98-pound butt can get out there and drag that calf in, then I’ll let you show,’ ” Brooke recalled with a hearty laugh.

“It was like training for a boxing match. I was scared they were going to weigh me. I was real little. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to catch calves.”

Actually Brooke was in excellent shape. She had been a cross-country runner for Hardin-Jefferson High School, a barrel racer, as well as a horse judge and rice judge. In addition, she was responsible for her five horses – Bo, Outlaw, Rooster, Peanut and May.

She had been in “lots of horse shows” and spent her summers teaching kids to ride horses in an area camp.

The Real Marriage

Hunter also was no stranger to hard work. He worked a summer in the West Texas oil business and – at only age 20 – received his “second promotion” at Performance Truck in Bryan. He started sweeping the floors there but within a year became warehouse manager and now serves as outside sales fleet account manager.

You talk to these two now-former calf scramblers and see they are not short on ambition and determination.

At their historic 2013 scramble they went in separate directions before the large rodeo crowd. Hunter was large enough not to be intimidated by even the largest calf on the floor. Meanwhile, Brooke had to use her smarts. She pinned her target up against a fence, expertly put the halter in place and sweet-talked the animal back inside the winner’s circle.

She laughingly introduced her “husband” to her parents, Mark (a welder) and Christy. They then parted company. Brooke still smiles widely at the recollection that that “husband” who “made goo-goo eyes at me” was texting her only minutes later.

A cell phone courtship ensued. She was then a high school sophomore, Hunter a junior. He asked her three times to the Anna junior prom before she finally accepted.

The “married” couple soon realized that the miles between Anna and Sour Lake took at least five hours to drive but got shorter and shorter as their real love story began to bud.

“It was like I had known him all my life,” the “bride” explained. “I had no plans to get married. At the time I wanted to go to vet school. I didn’t think (a romance) would work being that far away. But once we spent some time together, it was all over right there!”

During her last two years of high school Brooke jokingly referred to Hunter not as her “boyfriend” but as “my husband.” She would tell friends that she was “going to see my husband this weekend” in Anna or – at senior prom time – “I’m going to the prom with my husband.” Everyone in Sour Lake knew and appreciated the correct reference.

Both calf scramblers turned their prize money into different successful pursuits. Hunter bought a Brahman steer that placed “third in my class” and netted him about $8,000 for college expenses. Brooke purchased a heifer that she had for breeding and sold back to the original sellers, her Ag teacher Ken Abney and his wife Carolyn. The heifer, known as “Fancy,” is still an object of affection in, shall we say, the bull’s eye.

Hunter graduated from Anna High School in 2014 and made 11-hour drives to see his “wife” when he worked for a fluid recovery company in Midland during the summer. He did it every weekend! Imagine driving almost from one side of Texas to the other to see a young blonde. And then turning around to return to work maybe just a day later.

Sounds like true love.

It was!

On March 9, 2015 the match made by the HPD Calf Scramble Posse took effect. Brooke graduated in Sour Lake in 2015.

Hard Work and Determination

Now, you must recall that the “first” wedding was on March 9, 2013. It took the scramblers two years to get the right halter in the right place.

“Hunter and I went to City Hall and got married on our calf scramble anniversary,” the bride recalled. “We waited for that Monday to roll around. Our wedding anniversary is really our calf scramble anniversary, March 9.

“This past March 9 was our one-year wedding anniversary and three-year calf scramble anniversary. I figured it’d be a good idea. If Hunter could remember our calf scramble anniversary, he wouldn’t have to remember two dates. It was convenience right there.”

On the recent March 19, the really married couple of calf scramblers returned to the scene of the scramble to officially celebrate with the matchmakers themselves – the dedicated members of the HPD Calf Scramble Posse.

“We thought it was pretty neat,” Hunter said. “You don’t really understand how awesome it is until you go back the next year and realize, ‘I was down there.’ ”

This year’s anniversary celebration (three years for the first “wedding” and one year after the real wedding) featured a 14-month-old center attraction, the couple’s daughter, Kinsey.

A future Posse-inspired calf scrambler? Who knows!

Like what’s been said already, both Hunter and Brooke are hard workers with a promising future together.

“It’s all in the plan,” Hunter said. “We both knew we really needed to go to college. We came out here so it would be an easy transition. I took a semester off from school to really focus on work and started back to school this semester.”

And where is “here?”

It’s where people go to bleed maroon. Hunter, Brooke and Kinsey live in Bryan, a soft rock lob away from College Station, home of the Texas Aggies. Both are currently students at Blinn College, widely recognized as the “farm club” for future Aggies. The real Aggieland is in their future.

Hunter will major in agribusiness, Brooke in nursing. Of course Hunter works hard at his job dealing in Mack and Kenworth trucks, while Brooke is taking a full schedule while caring for Kinsey with help from doting grandparents and a close friend.

Meanwhile, the Posse members continue to “marry” calf scramble couples every night of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, never knowing when they might make another real match.

The Brooke/Hunter love story was the first in history (at least first known real marriage).

“Well,” Doug Griffith mused, “in this case it actually led to a real attraction between our scramblers.  Hunter and Brooke will forever be in our hearts and prayers as eternal members of the Calf Scramble family.”