Looking back, JoJo LeMond earned a reputation as a roping wild child a long time ago. He could launch a loop like no other, and was fearless when it came to roping’s risk-reward ratio. So it might surprise some of you to see how he operates as a model family man. Though you may remember him best as a show-stopper on some of rodeo’s biggest stages, JoJo’s a ranch cowboy at heart. But nothing—not even wide-open country covered in lush, green grass and fat cows—trumps his love for his wife and kids.
Though you might want to think twice before matching JoJo at a switch-ender, all four of his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appearances were as a header. He roped with Martin Lucero at his first Finals in 2008, then Randon Adams in 2009 and Cory Petska in 2010. JoJo joined forces at the Finals a fourth time with Junior Nogueira in 2015, as Jake Barnes’ fill-in after a nasty practice-pen fall right before the Finals sidelined Jake with a serious head injury and other ailments that would not allow the Hall of Famer to do NFR battle that year.
JoJo’s most memorable NFR-highlight-reel moment?
“Randon and I in the ninth round at the 2009 NFR,” remembers JoJo, now 36, who ranches in Andrews, Texas, with his wife, Blair, and kids, Newt, 12; Shaylee, 10; and Gunnar, 8. “We were battling it out for the world championship that year (Nick Sartain and Kollin VonAhn eventually prevailed), and we had to be 3.7 to take the lead in the round and still have a shot at the gold buckle. We were 3.4, then Chad (Masters) and Jade (Corkill) got us a few teams later by being 3.3. But at that moment I was pretty pumped. I think that was the greatest night of team roping ever, and I was pretty proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to his four shiny NFR showings, JoJo also has qualified four times for the National Finals Steer Roping, in 2013, ’15, ’16 and ’17. It’s a little-known fun fact that JoJo finished second only to Cowboy Kingpin Trevor Brazile in the 2015 world all-around championship race. LeMond has also made some memorable appearances as a Timed Event Championship contestant over the years, though a broken right leg suffered last September when a horse kicked him makes that impossible right now.
But JoJo is sound enough to team rope. And for those of you who track team roping results, you’ve noticed he’s headed for Trey Yates at a few of this year’s winter rodeos. In fact, LeMond and Yates will rope in Sunday’s short round at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, Arizona. How hard and far does JoJo plan to go in 2019?
“I told Trey that I would go a little bit this winter and see how it goes,” he said. “It’s really hard for me to commit to going hard, because I have my family and the ranch. Blair and I are running cows now. It’s also hard to get into the big rodeos these days. I don’t get to go to San Antonio or Houston.
“I might try to break the top 50 this year to try and get into those bigger rodeos next year. Trey and I talked about going until Reno, then seeing where we’re at. After Tucson, we’ll go to Corpus and Austin (Texas), then Guymon (Oklahoma). Then we’ll wait around until Reno. If I feel like we have a chance to make the Finals, I’ll go. I wouldn’t mind getting to go back one more time.”
On top of Tucson, JoJo and Trey have roped together at Odessa, Fort Worth, San Angelo and Rapid City. JoJo roped with Trey’s dad, J.D. Yates, at Denver, because the books closed during the NFR back in December. JoJo says it’s been a little slow so far, but he’s having fun just the same.
“Trey’s been a great kid growing up,” JoJo said. “I’ve gotten to watch him grow up, and I think he’s a great, respectful kid. He ropes great and has done well. I told him if he couldn’t find somebody I’d go with him through the winter and try it, if he wanted to.
“We’ve roped a little bit before. In 2015, I roped with Trey up in the Northwest. I think we ran five steers together and won about $5,000.”
Typical of JoJo, he’s been home in Texas since he and Trey roped their first two steers at Tucson.
“Naturally, my first priority is my family,” JoJo said. “My main goal is to be a good daddy. I enjoy being home and getting to watch my kids play sports. My oldest rides horses and ropes. I’ve gotten to coach Newt and Gunnar’s baseball teams, and me and Vin Fisher got to coach our daughters’ (JoJo’s Shaylee and Vin’s Danlee) basketball team. It’s so fun.
“If I’m entered, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to try and win. But I really don’t have anything left to prove to myself in the rodeo world. I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed with my rodeo career. I didn’t rodeo as hard as a lot of people, and I still got to enjoy the bright lights of Vegas and the Steer Roping Finals. I was just a broke kid from West Texas that wanted to make the Finals one time. That was my goal when I set out. I still enjoy competing against the best guys in the world, but it’s not what I think about all day every day anymore.”