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Dear Roper,

About a decade ago, our Account Representative Nick Griggs texted me at 6 a.m. Vegas time to let me know he’d be down at the South Point Hotel & Casino’s Café for breakfast. Nick and I didn’t aknow each other very well then—I was just 23 and fresh out of college, and Nick—well I won’t tell you how old he was, but safe to say he’s had some decades of experience in this industry.

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I’m a morning person, and I was already wide awake pecking away at my keyboard in my barely-unpacked hotel room when I got the text. I remember putting on my first “Vegas” outfit, which at the time was a new pair of jeans and a shirt that said Spin To Win Rodeo, and I zipped down the elevator to find Nick sitting at a table with another man I didn’t recognize.

You see—if you’ve followed my writing much, you might have caught on that I’m not “from” this industry by birth. I didn’t know that other man—in a starched white shirt, cowboy hat and glasses—was World Series of Team Roping President Denny Gentry. At the time, just a few months into my career with our old magazine, Spin To Win, I didn’t really know who Denny was. Just a guy, who worked at one of the associations that advertised with us.

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Over the years, that breakfast—and the education I received every morning for 12 days every December—has shaped my career, has taught me the ins and outs and who’s who of the business and has made friendships between those industry titans and this magazine editor.

When I think about all the things I missed about being in Vegas this year, that’s the very first thing on my mind. I missed the sourdough toast, the too many cups of coffee and the old war stories about the building blocks of the roping industry. I missed my friends, the people, the hospitality, that meant so much more to me than just a roping in Vegas.

Here’s to 2021, and a fresh start.

Chelsea

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