Big Break

Kaleb Driggers’ Breakout San Antonio Win in ’09
Kaleb Driggers won San Antonio in 2009 with Brad Culpepper, and the win changed everything— and nothing at all.
Driggers spinning his short-round steer for Brad Culpepper in 2009. | TRJ File Photo

Kaleb Driggers was in his rookie season in 2009 when he and Brad Culpepper won the first-ever tournament-style setup at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, raking in $16,593 a man.

Along the way, Driggers and Culpepper set an arena record at 4.0 seconds (it’s now 3.3 held by Clay Smith and Jade Corkill), and they battled their way through the wild-card round after two no-times put them in jeopardy of not making it back.

“I kind of thought it had to do with knocking them down to get back to the final round, but Brad told me to go ahead and speed it up a little bit,” Driggers admitted to Spin To Win Rodeo back in 2009. “He knows where to go and when and how fast we need to go. The very same steer we had in the finals, I missed him in the semifinals. I tried to safety up and back off the barrier a little bit and he went off to the left and I hit him in the back of the head. So I took a little more aggressive start, and when I roped him he actually checked off, but I had roped him good.”

The win in San Antonio helped put Driggers on the ride of his life.

Driggers had fellow Georgian and NFR veteran Culpepper to quarterback the situation, who told him to let it all hang out on their last steer, because backing off in the previous rounds didn’t do them any favors. 

“I had been going to amateur rodeos for a year or more, and they didn’t pay very good so we went to the ProRodeos for first every time. I’d only been heading for a couple years. I had practiced at home, but I hadn’t really headed that much.” 

Driggers had only been to Odessa, Texas’s Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo and Denver’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo before San Antonio, so the 19-year-old header’s eyes were big seeing some of his heroes for the first time.  

“Standing around looking at all the guys I admired growing up watching at the NFR, then to be competing with them and doing good gave me a sense that I belonged there,” Driggers said. “It wasn’t but a few short months later I realized that feeling was wrong, and I had some work to do to get on the level that they were. I had to work on riding my horse better, being able to put myself in a position where if I just needed to catch I could. I was just so mesmerized with the moment and being at something I’d always wanted to be a part of. It’s completely different looking back at it—I’m there for business now. But at that point in my life, I was thankful to have the opportunity to go to the rodeos.”


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