Growing up, I didn’t know of any professional guys. When I met Rube Woolsey, and we started roping together, he lived with Clay Cooper. Through them, I got to meet Jake Barnes and Bret Tonozzi and Dennis Gatz and Bobby Hurley and Allen Bach and Bobby Harris and Tee Woolman and that whole list of guys when I was just on my permit. I started looking up to certain guys because of what I wanted to do with my career and the level of roping at which I wanted to compete. They were doing what I wanted. So I started to watch them and see what they did and how they did it. It wasn’t even a conscious decision I made. It was just being curious because I really, really wanted to learn. Roping is what I wanted to do, and I was fired up about it. The competitiveness in me drove me to want to be better than them even.
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Jake and Clay and Allen had their work ethic and their way of preparing, and they roped a lot of steers. I didn’t follow in that necessarily, but in the way I prepared and gained my confidence in what I was doing and the horses I was riding, I took on my own identity in who I was and how I did things and what I wanted to do.
Then, as I became a Christian and I became a father and had a lot of responsibilities, I was hanging around people who were Christians like Clay and Allen and Jake. Those guys were who I looked up to and wanted to be like. Between aspiring to be the best roper I could be and the best person I could be, that’s who I looked up to and followed in their footsteps. The things they did basically shaded off on me.
I do believe the people you surround yourself with are directly connected to how you’re going to be. As an individual, if you surround yourself with a group of people, you will tend to be like the group instead of the group tending to be like you. If you surround yourself with people who are lazy, that do drugs, that drink, that don’t care or have bad attitudes or are negative thinkers, you’ll see yourself following those paths and not even realize it. I believe that, especially being young, putting yourself in the presence of people who are successful and have good attitudes and think the right way and have good work ethic, all of those things will reflect off onto you. It boils down to having the desire and the need to want to be the best you can possibly be.