It’s been proven over time that every body type has the ability to figure out how to rope and rope well. Because the horse handles a lot of the physical equation in our event, people large and small have reached success as headers and heelers through hard work. In my lifetime, I’ve seen ropers of every shape and size who can reach heading, heel with the best, be fast at both ends and be consistent.
If you took Leo Camarillo, Al Bach and Walt Woodard as examples, they had totally different body types. They all had amazing careers, and were incredibly talented ropers. Certain body types might mean more in the tie-down roping or steer wrestling, because those events are full contact. But if you think about it, there are guys with builds all over the map in those events also.
Whatever body type you’re dealt, if you have the desire and the dream, you can get it done. Look at most power forwards in basketball, then look at Charles Barkley. They say he couldn’t jump two inches off the ground, because as a young man he was too big and round, and just didn’t really look like a basketball player.
But being a great basketball player was Charles Barkley’s dream. He was raised by his grandma, and started trying to jump her picket fence as a kid. Eventually, he got to where he could jump that fence flat-footed. Then he started growing. Between of all that exercise, and growing taller, he got to where he could outjump 7-footers. Barkley became a dominant power forward in the NBA, and was a superstar rebounder and scorer for many years. But looking at him as a 12-year-old kid, you’d have said there was no possible way. He realized his dream by outworking everybody.
I think God places dreams and desires in our hearts. When we buy in and will not be denied, where there’s a will, there is a way. I’m so thankful that in my family nobody ever told me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. That is such a blessing, because there are people I’ve talked to over the years who’ve said someone they believed told them they couldn’t do something. And for them, that put a ceiling on what they originally wanted to do.
By the Grace of God, I only heard encouragement as a kid. So I believed I could do whatever I wanted. There were no barriers, so when something came up, I just hurdled it and got past it. I think encouragement is critically important to young people. Discouragement kills dreams.
I’m right in the middle of the road physically. I’m not big, fast or super physical in any way. But I was given a body that could do the job that I dreamed of doing. When I was bulldogging, I wanted to be as big and strong and tough as Ote Berry. But God gave me a different tool bag than Ote. Luckily and thankfully, my medium-sized body was completely capable of carrying out my dream of heeling steers for a living.
I’m inspired by stories like Charles Barkley’s, when people make the most of the body types they’re dealt. I’m impressed when people put in the work to transform their bodies, so they’re the best they can be. I’ve seen scrawny kids do work in the weight room and turn themselves into specimens. Others who have trouble with their weight use discipline to feel and perform their best. It’s always inspirational to me to see people do whatever it takes like that.
I’ve been roping and riding since I was a little kid, and that was good exercise for what I wanted to do. I’ve exercised on top of that, especially when I was roping calves and bulldogging. Whatever it takes has always kind of been my motto. And I’ve always really looked up to people who counter the different cards they’re dealt in life with determination.
Some people seem to have it all—the physical attributes, the talent—and it looks like everything came easy to them. But most of the real achievers in life have worked extra hard for everything they have. Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his basketball team as a young man? That wound impacted the rest of his playing days. He always had something to prove, and it propelled him to greatness. Not taking no for an answer works wonders.