Sterling J. Atkins, 18

Sterling James Atkins was born on a snowy day - April 11, 1994, in Kearney, to J.B. and Sonya Atkins. His life of fun loving mischief had begun. If Sterling had been born a horse, then he would have tested the electric fence daily just to see if it was still hot.Sterling and his parents moved to Broken Bow in 1997, where he attended school and graduated in 2012. He was joined by a sister, Jayde, in 1998. Sterling enjoyed many local activities including 4-H and baseball, but may be more known for his “deer tackling incident” at the ball diamond than for his prowess at the plate.His extracurricular activities included hunting and rodeo, as well as competing at horse shows. His accomplishments in the horse show arena were plentiful, with multiple Finals appearances at the AQHA Youth World Championship Show and to 10 finishes in reining and reined cowhorse.This young man decided to take his talents and cross over to the rodeo arena. He soon excelled in the cutting event with qualifications for the High School National Finals Rodeo three years in a row, including a top 10 finish at Nationals his junior year, and a state championship his senior year. He added team roping and calf roping to his rodeo events and enjoyed success there as well, including his most coveted of prizes - winning the first round of calf roping at the State High School Finals in 2012.Sterling’s most important decision came at a Young Pro’s Team Roping Clinic during the USTRC roping in Broken Bow. The Young Pro’s were a group of young Christian cowboys that help teach young people how to rope. Along with the clinic they witness about Jesus Christ. During this clinic, Sterling made a decision to follow Jesus. This decision guided his footsteps from that day forward. Although his path sometimes did not always follow the gospel, he knew that he was forgiven.The pursuit of humor occasionally put Sterling in a few tight spots. His tales of mischief are too numerous to mention, but they are famous among certain locales - in particular his neighbors, his school teachers, his coaches and even his Sunday school buddies.Sterling’s life touched everyone he knew in a manner impossible to describe in words. He was not a ghost among us, but a bright light that sometimes shed the darkness and sometimes burned like a hot iron - but he refused to go unnoticed. It was his way.This young bright light went to be with God on the snowy evening of Feb. 9, 2013. He left behind his parents, J.B. and Sonya, and his sister, Jayde, all of Broken Bow; grandparents, Maurice and Marlene Atkins of Broken Bow, and Curt and Nilda Havner of Elsberry, Mo.; and a host of uncles, aunts and cousins from Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Australia and Spain.Published in Custer County Chief, Feb. 21, 2013