Dear Roper

The Rodeo Family: An Inside Look at the March 2024 Issue
It's an honor and privilege to share the lives and stories of the team roping community.
Mary Guy, JJ Hampton and Lari Dee Guy at the 2022 NFBR back number ceremony. | Breakaway Roping Journal file photo

Dear Roper, 

My very first news writing class in journalism school was a doozy. Newswriting 101 in the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University was, to my surprise, obituary writing

I remember the professor, in his 70s after a long career in local newspapers, would rattle off details about someone’s life and death from the front of the room, and give us the spelling of their names—usually an always-challenging Polish name, just for good measure. (If we misspelled a name, we failed the assignment automatically. Names are important…)

Obituaries are a universal reality, something every news writer must hammer out at some point in his or her career. For some newspaper reporters, obit writing is an early rite of passage before moving on to different beats like crime or government. 

cover of the March 2024 issue of The Team Roping Journal featuring Tyler Wade riding a bay horse in the Thomas & Mack arena
On the cover: Tyler Wade celebrates a second straight go-round win in Round 9 of the 2023 NFR | Hailey Rae photo
March 2024 issue feature stories.

For rodeo journalists, though, writing obituaries is a solemn honor—an inevitable duty we don’t take lightly, a responsibility we earn as we build relationships. Our senior editor, Kendra Santos, has spent her life telling cowboys’ stories. Her dedication to telling rodeo’s full story lends itself to writing the obituaries of too many gone too soon, reaching millions with her words annually. 

I’m nearly 14 years into this job, and for the first time, I put to use those Newswriting 101 skills in January, after Jackie Crawford texted me that “Mary passed.” 

‘Mary’ meant Mary Guy, mom to Lari Dee. I’d gotten a call from Trevor Brazile the day before, not believing Mary could really be in as bad of shape as we’d heard, because, after all, she’d just beat lung cancer—surely pneumonia couldn’t take her. But it did. Thankfully, Trevor got to Abilene to be by their side before Mary left us, as did so many other friends who’d been loved in life by Mary Lillie.

@breakawayropingjournal

Safe to say this run is for Mary ✊🏻💗 Lari Dee Guy is roping in short go at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo just a short time after losing mother and roping industry force Mary. Let’s go LD! Coverage supported by @Equinety @fwssr

♬ original sound – The Breakaway Roping Journal

I’m behind on this issue’s production because I flew to Texas for Mary’s funeral, where I witnessed one of the most perfect celebrations of life that’s ever been thrown. The rodeo world showed up in full force for Mary, because that woman loved them all so dearly. 

All to say: It is our team’s privilege to tell the stories from this small corner of the world we live in, and it’s something we’ll never take for granted. Thanks for letting us be a part of your families. 

Editor’s note: Since the writing of this issue, the rodeo world incurred another loss when Quin Kessler died Feb. 26, 2024. He leaves behind wife, Jessie, and daughter, Quincy; mother, Allyson Baker; father Greg, stepmother, Kaylynn; brother, Landon; and sisters, Camille, Nicole, Lindsay and Hailey.

Chelsea

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