Roping-wise, starting the new year has always been exciting. By the end of the previous season you've either had a really good year or not done as well as you thought you should. Either scenario brings an excitement with it. You're either ready to keep rolling or you're trying to figure out how to do better, whether that means working on something you need to work on, trying to get better mounted or trying a new partner. All of the possibilities bring excitement to the new year and make you feel ready to go to work and get back out there. Everybody starts new, and everybody starts even. We all begin the journey of a new year.
I can remember when I was young and all I thought about was rodeoing. The majority of guys who are going to start going and traveling every year are the younger guys. All they eat, sleep and drink is rodeoing, making the Finals and winning. That's their No. 1 goal, and they don't really think about anything else. I remember the days well when I was totally that way.
As you mature, life has a way of changing your priorities. You get married, have a family and buy a place. You start getting a lot of added responsibilities, and the equation starts to change. That's when it goes from being a big, exciting adventure to a job. Your perspective changes, because roping is now how you put food on the table and provide a roof over your family's head. You become a lot more business-minded about roping and rodeoing.
The decisions you make in your roping business start to take on a little more added meaning. There's more riding on them, so you think longer and harder about each one. It's not just an adventure and a game now; it's your livelihood.
You have to make decisions based on your priorities, because roping and rodeoing is a business where you're gone from your family for most of the year. That really becomes a factor when the kids start school. They need to stay home. For me personally that was the hardest time in my career, when my kids were small and started school. It's hard to leave them and go off and go rodeoing like you always did before. But it's part of it. Those of us who've rodeoed for a long time realize that's the way the game is played. It is what it is.
You have young guys who are just craving to be out there and don't care about anything but living on the road and having fun. Then there's the group of family guys who've done it for a long time. The sacrifice they make gives them a perspective of rodeoing that's totally different. There's always that turnover. Team roping is a little different, because careers are longer than in the other events. Rodeo is a young man's sport, but team roping is kind of an exception.
If you're going to be successful you've got to be all-in, and ready to make a full commitment. If you're going to try to make the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo) or win the world or whatever your goal is, you have to make a decision that you're all-in, because there's a whole herd of young guys who feel that way. You have to be able to make the sacrifice it takes to get the job done