Anatomy of a Partnership

Jade Corkill didn’t just catch 15 straight steers under six seconds at the George Strait Classic; he also was one of very few guys to catch all 10 at the Wrangler NFR – averaging a smoking 4.2 on each of his last five steers there for Luke Brown.

What’s come over this kid in two short years? The talent hasn’t changed, but the attitude flipped a 180. Part of the reason Corkill struggled early mentally is the same reason he wins so much today – he can’t stomach missing.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’d rather fall off than miss,” he said. “When I rope, I see it all really clear and it seems like there’s no excuse for missing.”

His parents have videos of him practicing while they yell, ‘throw!’ from behind the camera, because he would track…and track… and track… until he knew he’d catch.

“If I feel like I’m not going to catch, it’s like a mental block and I can’t open my hand,” he said. “I guess now it’s muscle memory, since I’ve done it so long that way.”

Putting that kind of pressure on himself made him Rookie of the Year in 2006, but it also wore him down so much in 2007 that he went home, angry and defeated.

“Mentally, it was like I was depressed,” he recalled. “I just lost it and it wasn’t the right thing to do. I guess since then, I kind of quit being a baby.”

It had occurred to Corkill that life’s too short to be in a bad mood, and that even the world champion loses more than he wins at any given time. He didn’t need to force it, he realized.

“Last year and this year I’ve had more fun and I feel like rodeoing now is how I always dreamed it would be,” he said. “Even when me and Chad quit, it was a big hit to me, but I rolled with the punches and tried not to let it affect my roping.”

Masters had indeed dumped the still-maturing Corkill last summer, but had also noticed a big turnaround in the business-like way his young heeler handled it.

“Honestly, when I quit him he could have went two ways, and he never had any hard feelings against me,” said Masters, who calls Corkill one of the best heelers there is. “I’m excited to rope with him again.”

As for Corkill, he says the irony is that Masters’ influence is what refined him.

“I think who you’re around affects the way you act,” Corkill said of the modest, polite, laid-back Masters. “As far as the attitude goes, he didn’t even know that I was learning from him, but that’s what changed me completely around. Even when I wasn’t roping with him I wanted to be like him. He has no idea how much that helped me.”

Basically, Corkill’s just happy to be getting a rematch with the former world champ.

“I don’t care how he’s roping at any particular time – that guy’s gonna win and I want be heeling for him when he does.”If their quarter-of-a-million-dollar weekend as a new team is any indication, watch out world.

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