Young Guns: What You Need to Know About College Rodeo
Weatherford College's Johnny Emmons talks team roping in college rodeo.

Getting On a Team

Credit: Hubbell Rodeo Photos

Here in Weatherford, there are a lot of people who want to come to college in this area because of all the jackpots, and most of the top 15 guys live within an hour of here. So we don’t have to recruit a lot of team ropers. We get our pick, pretty much. Everybody wants a full ride scholarship or a scholarship of some kind, but sometimes I have to turn down #7s and #8s just because I don’t have the scholarship money for them. A lot of kids send out letters and resumes. I get mass emails that go to like 30 coaches. Personally, I don’t appreciate that. Kids need to decide what area they want to be in and focus on that coach. A more personalized pitch goes a long way. I want somebody who wants to be here. I’m not concerned about what they won in junior high, but the junior and senior years are important. Good references are important, too. PRCA or USTRC members who can speak to your ability helps me learn more about you.

College Classwork

We take a hard look at grades. A lot of young ropers are just interested in roping–not in school–they want to be team roping stars. The way I try to narrow it down–after trying to get the best ropers I can get—is to look at their grades and call all their references to try to learn what kind of a person they are. Are they professional? Do they take care of business? They need to be able to take care of their horse and themselves and of course we don’t want any drug abuse or anything like that. We’re just looking for a professional personality that will go to class, do their work, represent the school, themselves and their family in a professional manner. We want a hard working kid who can rope good, but also wants to be more than that.

College Competition Level

The team roping is probably the easiest event in college rodeo. Truth be known, a couple of fives who go out there and catch every steer have as good of a chance at winning the region as a No. 15 or open-level team. Teams that get a good head catch, handle, take a few swings across the pen and catch two will place every week and end up winning the region or qualifying for the college finals. Every once in a while, you’ll go to a rodeo where you have to air it out, but if you catch both steers clean, you’re probably going to place. I figured to go to the 10 rodeos in our region is about 6,000 miles. We usually leave on Thursday morning and get back on Sunday evening.

College Life

If they’re taking a full 12-15 hour load, taking care of their horse and going to practice and the rodeos, they probably don’t have a lot of time for a job. Some kids are forced to for financial reasons, but they probably sacrifice their schoolwork or their practice time to do it. We try to make practice secondary to schoolwork, but we have organized practice Monday through Thursday, starting at 2 or 3 o’clock and go until dark. If you’ve got a lab or whatever, just show up when you’re done and we’ll save you a pen of steers. I’m there to give them pointers and help them with their horses and be their mentor.

About Johnny Emmons

Johnny Emmons qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as a tie-down roper five times: 1989, 1998, and 2001-2003. A former Texas Circuit All-Around and three-time Tie-Down Roping Champion, Emmons qualified for the Texas Circuit Finals 20 consecutive years (1988-2007), including five appearances as a team roper. He has over $800,000 in career earnings.Emmons began as Weatherford College’s assistant rodeo coach in 2005 and took over as head coach in 2012.

Credit: ProRodeo Photo
Related Articles
Colby Lovell heeling
5 Flat
Making Smooth Shots on Green Horses
Still of Coleman Proctor holding a rope from video "How to Fix the Most Common Misses in Team Roping"
Pro Tip
This One Change Could Help Your Catch Percentage
Trevor Brazile training rope horse fundamentals while roping on a sorrel horse in a covered arena
Relentless Insights
Starting a Rope Horse: Developing Timing
A very young Clay O'Brien Cooper heeling for Danny Costa.
Breaking Bad Habits
Break the Leaning Habit
closeup of Trevor Brazile heading on a palomino horse
The Magnetic Draw to Cattle