To people who have never been to Wyoming, or know anybody from Wyoming: you may be surprised by the state.
No, it is not the Wild Wild West, and no, our children don’t ride horses to school. It is very much like any other place in America—just a lot more wide open.
Wyoming has a population of around half a million people: its largest city only has about 70,000 (for midwestern sports fans, think the size of Green Bay, Wisconsin). There are a lot of open spaces to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and spend time at the lake in summer. Spending time at the campfire eating s’mores is also very popular. For the winter (which is really cold) snowmobiling is a fun outdoor activity.
The open spaces and low population allow you to ride motorcycles or make any other kind of drive—and not see more than 10 cars on a 250-mile trip on our interstates and highways!
Wyoming is a very relaxed state where everyone is very friendly and nice to everyone. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, don’t be surprised to see someone pull over and help you.
Wyoming’s major landmarks are Yellowstone National Park (the first one ever created in this country, way back in 1872), Devils Tower, and the land around Jackson—some of the most beautiful land on the planet.
As far as sports, having open spaces does mean long road trips for high school teams. Teams sometimes have to travel more than 100 miles to play.
As you may know, our state university hosts the Illini’s opening game opponent: the University of Wyoming Cowboys. UW is the only four-year school in the state. Found in the southwest corner of Wyoming, it has the highest elevation of any D1 NCAA school—7,220 feet! Needless to say, it gets very cold there.
Another charming sports thing: we have a collegiate wooden-bat summer baseball league across several Wyoming cities.
As far as pro sports, you pretty much have to travel to Denver, unless you like to watch indoor football. The Wyoming Mustangs, a team competing in the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league, play in the northeastern city of Gillette.
Of course, the biggest sport is rodeo. Cheyenne hosts its annual “Cheyenne Frontier Days” (nicknamed the “daddy of them all”), while a couple of other cities, Gillette and Rock Springs, have hosted the High School Nationals Finals in rodeo.
I hope you now know a little more about Wyoming. We even have Illini fans here, like myself.
And as I told Coach Bielema during Illini day at Wrigley Field this summer—he can’t lose the first game, because I’ll never hear the end of it.