We sent this issue to press as 2020 came to a close, mired by the losses we’ve all faced this year. With legends like Leo Camarillo and Robbie Schroeder passing just hours apart, both from complications related to COVID-19, I’ve got to tell you this issue was compiled with heavy hearts.
Kendra Santos sat on the phone with the Camarillo family as Leo passed, while I sat down with Junior Nogueira on learning of Robbie’s death to write his final thoughts on his beloved mentor. These are tasks Kendra and I tackle with the utmost care and reflect the relationships we’ve built that we will never take for granted. These somber moments reaffirm to us why we do what we do—because of our deep love for the people who make up this industry we call home.
We had scheduled a cover (and it was a jam-up one, just look above!) with Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves to highlight Julie Mankin’s story on their world-champion mounts for this issue. But when we lost Leo, we pivoted to this iconic shot of The Lion by Jerry Gustafson. His fierce personality and undeniable style defined a generation, many of whom receive this magazine in the mail each month, and we honor him here on page 67. As for Robbie, take time to read about his life and what he meant to Nogueira on page 8.
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Many a writer has lamented in ink on the losses of 2020, and I’m afraid I’m no different. The year behind us took so very much from everyone, but as we highlighted on our cover last month, roping has remained a constant, and ropers have stayed the course. I’m ever thankful for you all, and I promise I don’t take this job and this responsibility we have for granted.
Thank you for letting us talk you through the last 12 months, and here’s to a brighter year ahead.