SWR: First of all, where have you been since 2001?
Reese: At home, I’ve got three boys: T.R., 8, Matthew, 5 and Bailan is 3.
SWR: I guess that would keep a guy busy. I remember you saying when you won the Resistol Rookie of the Year award in 2001, that you owned a convenience store in south Texas. Are you still involved with that?
Reese: We sold the store in Cotulla and opened one up on Comfort, where we currently live, in 2002. It’s a Chevron McDonalds.
SWR: I bet that keeps a guy busy.
Reese: Well, luckily I have a good partner who puts up with me being gone all the time now.
SWR: So between 2001 and now, did you rodeo much?
Reese: Just a little bit. You know how hard it is with the money and trying to run the businesses. Then moving from Cotulla to Comfort and building the business up here and then house and arena and all that stuff. It takes a lot of time, but finally we got everything lined out. My wife, Serena, stays home with the kids so it’s made it a lot easier to start rodeoing.
The other thing that’s really helped is the rule and season changes. Before, you had to go broke to get qualified for Denver, San Antonio and Houston. This year, when they changed the rules to take the top five from the current world standings and moved the season back, I thought here’s a good opportunity to try to get qualified for those rodeos. I’ve been wanting to do it. Everybody’s after that elusive jacket.
SWR: So since the 2008 season started in October of 2007, you were able to get yourself in the top five at smaller rodeos in order to qualify for the big ones this winter. That’s a great strategy.
Reese: All of our smaller fall rodeos like Pasadena and Seguin used to count for the prior year. This year they made it count for the upcoming year and I knew there was going to be a lot of people fighting for it, so that’s when I got with Jesse [Echtler]. There were a lot of guys trying it, but I don’t think as many people realized it. Some of those guys from California and Nevada on the bubble should have been at some of those rodeos, but it was just a lot of the teams from Texas.
SWR: Tell us a little about Jesse.
Reese: He’s from Colorado, but had gone to school in Huntsville. I met him at some amateur jackpots and that kind of thing. Last year we entered Waco and some of those and won pretty good. We went to Oakdale, San Francisco and Logandale just to go to a few and placed at Logandale. We’d won a little together and became friends through everything.
I sell white tail deer hunts and I had Jesse coming down to help me do those. I had planned on roping with somebody else, but with the hunting schedule the way it was, we were probably going to have to turn out of some of those fall rodeos. I figured if we were going to have to turn out, I may as well have somebody turning out with me. We just started practicing and hunting.
He’s roped good for a while and always won good. He’s been in school for a while. After we had a pretty decent start this year he told me he wanted to concentrate on his roping and I said that sounded good and we’re just trying to stay after them.
SWR: Did the success you had in 2001-rookie of the year, winning the Copenhagen Cup in Las Vegas and the Olympic Command Performance qualification-whet your appetite to compete full time?
Reese: For sure it did. Life has different paths and stuff. There was a point where I needed to get back into rodeo but we were moving. For me, at the time, I wanted to keep doing it. You don’t do this for the money, you do if for the glory and a guy wants to get back in it-that’s for sure. I knew that for those few years there that the circuit rodeos and amateur rodeos is where I knew I was going to be.
SWR: So 2008 is all about that elusive jacket and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo?
Reese: I’ve been fortunate to have won some stuff and done some bigger things already with the rodeo. This year, that’s the plan. That’s where we’ll be in December.
Another thing is that Heartland Series. The finals are at Waco and it adds $150,000 in the team roping, so it’s as good as San Antonio. So, a guy needs to try.
In fact, during San Antonio, Walt Woodard stayed with me and he said, “Look, you need to change some of your goals up. Those Heartland rodeos are going to be good, you need to go to them, but you don’t need to count them all. You’ve got a great shot at making the Finals, you need to start watching your rodeo count, where you go and what you enter.”
That’s what started making me think, Yeah I better listen to what he’s got to say.
SWR: Having the reigning world champion heeler telling you that has got to give you some confidence.
Reese: I’ve felt like we were capable because of the winning we’ve been doing. But practicing with him and then hearing that from him gives you a huge boost of confidence. Like, ‘Hey, I do belong and I can do it.’
You can’t be in this sport if you’re not confident anyway. You don’t have to show it, but when something like that happens it’s a big boost of confidence.
SWR: It’s been a good winter so far.
Reese: Yeah, so far it’s been good. We were second at Denver, we won a couple little rodeos. We won Marble Falls and won Los Fresnos. You know, everybody ropes so good now team roping has gotten so tough. I’ve got really good horses now and I feel like I can win every time we go anywhere, so that’s been a plus.
SWR: What are you riding?
Reese: My number one horse is Chili Mac. I bought him from a calf roper named Landon McClarity. He brought him to me to sell-I sell quite a few horses-I couldn’t get anybody to come look at him. I looked up a month later and thought, I really like this horse. So I bought him. He just never gets in your way.
I have another bay horse that I raised-he’s 10 years old-and he’s finally getting really good. I call him Razor. I’ve got two pretty good ones.
SWR: Sounds like all the pieces are in place. We’re running out of room, but thanks for the interview and good luck.
Reese: That’ll work.