In any sport or avenue in life that a person gets passionately infatuated with, there’s an overboard, fanatical way of looking at it that really propels people to be successful.
For me, it was roping, and I got totally absorbed with it as a young kid. I formulated hypotheticals in my mind about what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be. At that critical time in my life, nobody ever told me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, which was make a living with my rope. It never entered my mind that I couldn’t live my dream, and I always had the encouragement of family and friends that my dream was possible.
That was a great blessing to me, and with that foundation, I believe achievement is possible to this very day. As I reflect back 40–50 years, it’s so cool that the motto of our country—the American Dream—is still possible and attainable, if you believe in what you’re doing and work hard enough.
Because I’m a Christian, God is part of my equation, too. Circumstances in life allowed me to always know it was possible to accomplish what I set out to do, and I believe God uses people and timing to make things possible and help you along the journey to succeed. I’ve been blessed to live a life of possibilities.
I’ve met people who’ve come from environments where they were told they couldn’t accomplish their goals. It squashed their dreams, which is tragic. Thank God, I didn’t encounter that. My hopes were allowed to happen. As we have children and grandchildren, we pass along these can-do messages to our kids and grandkids. Believing we can do something makes it possible.
A positive outlook frees us up. When we believe something’s possible, we become consumed with whatever we’re trying to achieve. I ate, drank and slept becoming the best team roper I could be. To live that life, travel and compete was all I ever wanted, and I got to do that for a living. I’m still absorbed with heeling. The components of it continue to intrigue me.
I’m glad for the road I chose. In some ways, it’s a hard life. It’s not lucrative as a sport financially, especially compared to other professional sports. It’s hard work, and a 24-7 commitment to make a living roping. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s been my passion in life. I’m grateful to God that He let me live my passion, and it’s still burning on the inside. I’m grateful for the freedom to still live it.
I’m so proud of rodeo people, and agricultural people in general. They’re the most patriotic, thankful people. We realize the sacrifice made by others to be able to choose how we live our lives. It’s hard for me to relate to why everyone isn’t grateful for the freedoms and opportunities we have in this country.
Our kids and grandkids are going to inherit what we leave them. It’s up to us what that will be. I know hope, opportunity, encouragement and a positive outlook are what I want to leave my kids and grandkids. I don’t want them to quit on their dreams. I want them to keep working toward them, and fighting for them.
If you have a job, and roping for a living is not your passion, that’s ok. I run into a lot of people who are very serious about roping as a hobby. They make their livings elsewhere, which is great. Jake (Barnes) and I have done schools for 40 years now, and have had sponsors for 40 years to make meeting the expenses of travel and entry fees possible. It all costs an enormous amount of money.
People at roping schools with 8–5 jobs love to rope, too, and what we’ve figured out over time is that we aren’t that much different, really. We all do whatever it takes to piece together the living and the life we choose. We all find a way to pursue our passion, and that’s what it’s all about.