Broc Cresta loved rodeo from an early age. As a youngster, he began practice roping any animal he could find around the family's Sonoma County ranch.
Cresta, a rising team-roping star in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, died Saturday in his living quarters trailer at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming. A cause hasn't been determined. He was 25.
Services are Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa.
Born and raised in Sonoma County, Cresta followed in his father, grandfather and uncles' footsteps in his love of rodeo.
"Our first pair of shoes weren't shoes, they were boots," said his older brother, Brent of Santa Rosa. "It was just a way of life. There are people that drive race cars, people who play football. We rode horses and we roped and that's all we ever knew."
Cresta's grandfather, William, raised horses for the sport and owned a champion steer wrestling horse. His father and uncle wrestled steers on the pro circuit and he competed in team roping with his brother. His parents, Dan Cresta and Kelline Balistreri of Santa Rosa, owned Mexican Corriente cattle and organized roping jackpot competitions all over California.
As a youth Cresta was so good that he was traveling the country competing in rodeo events. He was missing so much school, he enrolled in an independent study program at Santa Rosa High School to complete his graduation requirements.
He turned pro two years later. With his team roping partner he won several rodeos in California this year, including those in Redding, Livermore, Oakdale, Bakersfield and Marysville, and one in Eugene, Ore.
In 2007, Cresta was the 2007 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rookie Heeler of the Year, and he competed in the past two Wrangler National Finals Rodeos.
At the time of his death, he was ranked 14th among heelers in the world team-roping standings, the highest-ranking for a Californian. He finished 12th overall last year.
His brother said Cresta was strong, quiet and determined.
"He was a man of very few words," Brent Cresta said. "Even though he didn't say it, we always knew where he was headed and we didn't doubt he was going to pursue his goals and accomplish what he loved."
He said the rodeo community is close-knit. Many friends are expected for the services.
"When it comes to rodeo, that's our extended family," he said. "When we'd go to ropings on weekends, it was very comfortable. That was home as much as anywhere."
In addition to his parents and brother, Cresta is survived by his stepfather August Balistreri of Santa Rosa; step-brothers Jess and Anthony Balistreri and step-sisters Sarah and Amanda Balistreri, all of Cloverdale; grandfather William of Santa Rosa and grandparents George and Teresa Learned of Lower Lake; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
A private burial will be held at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.
The family asked that memorial contributions be made to the Broc Cresta Memorial Fund, Sonoma County Grange Credit Union, 304 Sutton Pl., Santa Rosa, 95407.