The 40th annual ACTRA Finals featured all kinds of cool storylines. But on the sentimental side, it doesn’t get any better than 1974 World Champ HP Evetts heading for son of Leo “The Lion” Trey Camarillo. HP shared a whole lot of headlines and history with late Daddy Leo and his fellow Team Roping Hall of Famer brother, Jerold. To see two generations of such iconic rodeo families roping on the same team puts a smile on my face and happy tears in my eyes.
It all played out at the October 15-22 ACTRA National Finals at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center, which is likely most familiar as the longtime home of the BFI. When HP and Trey, who just turned 21 on October 16, were second high callback in the Super 7 Roping, the stage was set for a storybook ending. They had 8.47 seconds to take the lead, and when “H” turned their last one and Trey wheeled him, it looked for a split-second like it was going to be a done deal.
“But Trey got his hand in the dally, so he moved his horse up to get his thumb out of there, and didn’t get a flag before the rope came off,” said Uncle Jerold, who was anxiously watching online at home. “That was a sad deal right there. There were over 1,000 teams, and $10,000 a man, two horse trailers and saddles were on the line. It was one of those times when the call was right there on the edge where it could have gone either way. The ball bounced the wrong direction this time.”
Kreece Powell and Logan Anseth won the roping with 39.66 on five steers. Evetts and Camarillo finished 24th after being 30.87 on four for $470 a man in a roping that paid 50 places. Sometimes life’s sweetest wins don’t come with trophies.
“My last words to Leo before he died were that I would take care of his family,” Jerold said. “It makes me so happy and proud to see his son roping like this. Trey and his little sister (Cassie’s 18) both have the roping bug. How this is all going would make Leo so happy, too.
“HP and the Evetts family have been a big part of our history. HP’s dad, Hoke, used to sometimes pay Leo and my entry fees when we were kids and didn’t have any money. To see HP now take Trey under his wing is pretty special. HP called me, and said, ‘I need to head for that kid. I’ll take care of him, and pay his fees.’”
Trey—AKA “Cub”—and Cassie have been camped at Jerold and Liz’s place they share with sister Christie in Oakdale since after the Fourth of July this summer. They’ll head back to Arizona for the winter next week.
“Trey was never all that interested in roping as a young kid, then he really got into it,” Jerold said. “Leo really enjoyed getting to rope with him before he passed, and that’s all Trey wants to do now, just like when Leo and I were young. I’m trying to coach him along, and help him learn to be consistent. It’s good to be fast, but you can’t miss. Roping two feet every time has got to be the goal. To be a winner, you have to jump up to the plate and rope them all.
“How this has all come full circle really is pretty cool. When Leo and I were kids, Hoke helped with our entry fees. Now here we go again, and HP’s taking care of the next generation. Trey will rope with HP again, and his son, George, too, next week at the World Series roping in Chowchilla. It doesn’t get any better than that. HP’s still got it, and he’ll always be a winner. He has a big heart, too.”
“Trey’s a good kid, and he tries hard,” HP said. “He’s got a lot to live up to, and I’ll help him however I can. I told Trey I’ll come rope with him in Arizona this winter, too. My family goes way back with the Camarillos.”
Old friends are the best, and some friends are family. “Familia,” as Leo used to say.