Team Roping Ties Heavy Into 2022 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Class with Brazile, Harris, Mote and Potter
When the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announced its 2022 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Class April 12, four men with deep ties to the sport of team roping were on the list—perhaps one of the largest groups of team roping-related inductees in the hall’s history.
The 26-time PRCA World Champion Trevor Brazile headlines the class, with four-time bareback-riding World Champ turned head-horse trainer Bobby Mote joining him. The 1991 World Champion Heeler Bobby Harris will also be inducted, alongside prolific performance horse breeder Mel Potter who made the NFR in the tie-down roping, sat on the PRCA’s Board of Directors and made multiple trips to the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in the heading.
ProRodeo’s only $7-million cowboy, Brazile has 26 gold buckles that include a PRCA-record 14 in all-around (2002-04, 2006-15, 2018), three in tie-down roping (2007, 2009-10) and one in team roping (2010) to go with the National Finals Steer Roping gold buckles in 2006-07, 2011, 2013-15 and 2019-20.
“As far as rodeo accolades go, those are just within your era that you rodeoed in, and this goes beyond that era,” Brazile said. “That’s the coolest part about, it transcends all ages and all eras. It puts you in a position—not immortality—but it lets your career live past you.”
Brazile also has a PRCA record 74 career total round wins at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo–in tie-down roping and team roping–and steer roping.
“Trevor and I’s card numbers are one apart,” Mote said. “It’s special to me that he and I are in the same class. We’ve been through a lot together, and we’ve been good friends for a long time. People don’t understand how to be as good as he was in the arena in one event is remarkable. To do it in three events is unheard of. And to do all that and be the person he is outside of the arena is impossible.”
Brazile has won 36 rounds at the NFSR, second only to Guy Allen’s 48.
Before Bobby Mote became the rope horse trainer for Reliance Ranches and set out to improve rodeo with the WCRA, he rode bareback horses a little bit… Enough to win four gold buckles and qualify for 15 consecutive NFRs.
“When they called me, and I was on speaker phone with Donny Gay, Randy Corley, Steve Kenyon and Tom Glause, and it was an awesome surprise for me,” Mote said. “People have said they wanted to try to get me in, but I didn’t want anyone to bother. I didn’t want to campaign for it. I didn’t rodeo to be in the Hall of Fame. When you’re in the process, every day you’re grinding it out trying to be the best you can. You don’t ever pick your head up to realize how good it’s been until it’s over and you have a chance to reflect on it.”
Mote retired in 2017.
“Bob and I bought our cards the same day,” Brazile said. “Our careers have been so close throughout. After rodeo, I’ve seen the kind of resolve.That guy has zero quit, and he has a focus that makes it easy to see why he was a champion. He applies it to every aspect of his life. He’s going to continue to be really successful because of that mindset. I took a deep breath when I was done, but he’s as focused as he ever was on whatever he does.”
Harris qualified 18 times in team roping in 1981-82, 1984-95 and 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2010. He also qualified for the NFSR in 1986-91 and 1993 and 2006. He also won the Lazy E’s Timed Event Championship in 1990.
“It’s a different feeling than when you win the world, because your peers voted on you to be part of an exclusive group. It’s overwhelming and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’m the old guy in the group. I’ve known Trevor when his dad used to rope and he was just a little boy. To be in with a cowboy that has been so successful and driven and honored like Trevor, that’s something that will be very special for me for the rest of my life. In Bobby’s time, there was no one better. He was a pure professional. It’s very honorable to be in with those two guys. And it’s a great honor to be in with Mel Potter. Mel has been a Hall-of-Fame person for years, for rodeo, for the horses, for everything else.”
Harris won the NFR average three times—with Tee Woolman splitting it with Jake Milton and Walt Woodard in 1987; again in 1990 with Woolman outright; and with J.D. Yates in 2002.
“That guy was a wizard with a rope,” Brazile said. “The people that didn’t know him, or just saw him on the announcement as ‘heeler,’ he was so much more than that. He was a wizard with a rope, and he handled a rope as good as anybody I’ve ever seen—whatever you wanted to rope, it was never out of his wheelhouse. He just had so much control. He’s one of the names I mentioned who I aspire to be like, as far as talents with a rope.”
Potter joined the RCA in 1951, beginning his career at age 16.
Potter competed in the inaugural National Finals Rodeo in Dallas as a tie-down roper in 1959, finishing 14th in the final standings.
“Mel’s influence is as strong as ever in team roping,” Mote said. “He would have been doing it before it was a standard event, so that’s beyond admirable.”
Potter owned the great stallion MP Frenchmans Hayday, aboard whom his daughter Sherry Cervi and her husband Cory Petska won $400,000 and went on to produce millions of dollars in ProRodeo earning offspring.
As recently as 2010, Potter qualified for the RAM Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo as a team roper, and on July 17, 2013, Potter and partner Garrison Dixon won the Green County Fair ProRodeo in Monroe, Wis.
Combine Potter’s longevity as a competitor with his decade of success (1964-73) as a stock contractor with Rodeos Inc., and his time served on the PRCA Board of Directors and being selected the 2015 Legend of ProRodeo, and it adds up to him going into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Stock contractor, the late Jake Beutler, rodeo clown Rick Young, four-time PRCA Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year Frontier Rodeo’s Medicine Woman, rodeo notable Mel Potter, world champion steer wrestler Roy Duvall’s horse Whiskey and barrel racer Ardith Bruce and WPRA notable Cindy Rosser
(The PRCA contributed to this reporting.)