There’s something about the atmosphere of a Saturday night high school rodeo fundraiser #11.5 slide that I just love.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing like a top-notch Ariat World Series of Team Roping qualifier, a USTRC Signature Series roping or an NTR Qualifier in Wickenburg or Rapid City or Mormon Lake.
But there’s a whole different vibe to a fundraiser or memorial roping that’s just something to take in every now and again. It’s a perfect cross-section of the team roping community: from high-number, high-roller ropers who come out to support the community and the kids to ex-bull riders without a Global Handicaps number to parents and top-notch high school rodeo talent, the mix of ropers is representative of nearly everyone who swings a rope.
Little brothers and sisters buzz around on hover boards with toy ropes in their hands, and dummy ropers kick up dust in the parking lots. Kids get to rope with their parents, and dads who used to rodeo for a living get to wheel around behind their buddies for the first-round fast time.
The last time I went to one of these deals—240 teams strong on a Saturday night in Eaton, Colorado—I watched with admiration as some great ropers and businessmen helped a tiny kiddo on a hot-in-the-box heel horse get into the corner and all cheered like crazy as he rolled down the arena. And I got to see some great up-and-coming talent from the high school ranks that I’m sure I’ll be writing about at the National Finals Rodeo someday, roping with their buddies and parents and clearly outshining the rest of the pack.
Now, ropings like the Cinch National Finals of Team Roping, covered on pages 59 to 70, absolutely fuel me and motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing, but I hope I don’t ever lose that special place in my heart for the weekend, $80-a-roper jackpot that fuels the grassroots of the sport, too.
See you down the road,