KANSAN WILL ROPE THIS WEEK DURING AMERICAN ROYAL INVITATIONAL YOUTH RODEO
KANSAS CITY, Mo. â€“ Cooper Martin has a special place in his heart for the American Royal Invitational Youth Rodeo.
â€śDefending my American Royal title is like defending my national title,â€ť said Nelson of Alma, Kan.
The last 12 months have been pretty special for the high school senior, who added two major titles to his already growing resume. Last September, the 17-year-old cowboy earned the American Royal title, one he will try to defend this week during the youth rodeo, set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and noon Wednesday-Friday at Hale Arena.
This past July at the National High School Finals Rodeo, Martin won the tie-down roping title, beating a field that consisted of the very best cowboys from across the country. When he competes during his age division Wednesday afternoon, he will have that experience with him.
â€śItâ€™s a great rodeo, for the kids that watch it, especially,â€ť Martin said, referring to the students who enjoy the rodeo each day while part of field trips to tour the American Royal complex. â€śItâ€™s just as good for the contestants, too.â€ť
Thatâ€™s just one of the reasons young rodeo athletes make their way to Kansas City every fall. The others are a chance to win one of the most prestigious events in which they can compete, to ride in the same arena as ProRodeoâ€™s top stars and to play a game they love.
â€śThe guys that work the hardest â€“ those pros that are making a living at it and making the (National Finals Rodeo) â€“ theyâ€™re doing what they love,â€ť Martin said. â€śThatâ€™s why I work so hard. I put in all of my time into rodeo to where hopefully someday I can make it my job.â€ť
How much time? He takes his high school courses online to leave him time to chase his dreams.
â€śItâ€™s my life; itâ€™s all I do,â€ť said Martin, who will compete in the youth rodeo for the sixth straight year. â€śThatâ€™s why I take online classes so I can practice every day and go to more rodeos.â€ť
It seems to be working, but so are the lessons that come with competing at a high level, whether through experiences or by enlisting assistance from quality trainers.
â€śIâ€™ve had a lot of help from Roy Durfey, Junior Lewis and Monty Dyer; I would not be at the level I am without any of them,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™ve also had a lot of help from my family. My mom and dad do everything they can to help me so that I have cattle in my practice pen and fuel in my tank.â€ť
Thatâ€™s a valuable tool for any competitor, but itâ€™s especially nice for Martin. Neither of his parents â€“ mom Candi and dad Chris â€“ competed in rodeo, but theyâ€™ve been supportive for Cooper and his younger sister, Caxton, 13, who will compete in barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying during Thursdayâ€™s performance.
â€śMy parents both grew up on ranches, and thatâ€™s what we do here,â€ť he said. â€śWhen I started kindergarten, they told me I needed to choose a sport. I always rode horses and did stuff on horses, and thatâ€™s how I got started in rodeo. They took me to my first rodeo when I was in kindergarten, and Iâ€™ve been going ever since.â€ť
Of course, adding another American Royal title would be a nice feather to add to his cowboy hat
â€śThatâ€™s a big win, and you want to be able to prove yourself that it was not an accident when you won the first time,â€ť Martin said. â€śI want to prove myself over and over again.â€ť
It looks like he wonâ€™t slow down any time soon.
STEPHENVILLE, Texas â€“ This communityâ€™s motto is more than a phrase; itâ€™s a lifestyle
The Cowboy Capital of the World is proof of the tremendous athletic talent that resides in Erath County. Over the last few years, the communityâ€™s rodeo has made changes to be a true showcase of that â€“ first changing the date to the end of September to help draw more fans, then increasing the purse to attract the biggest names in the game.
â€śWith college kids in town, our population doubles,â€ť said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and Saturday, Sept. 27, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, at Lone Star Arena. â€śIn June, the college population wasnâ€™t here. Weâ€™re trying to do the best job for the community.
â€śWeâ€™re also trying to get the cowboys and cowgirls. Now that itâ€™s one of the last rodeos of the year, we feel like weâ€™re going to be the rodeo theyâ€™ll all want to get to.â€ť
ProRodeoâ€™s regular season concludes on that Sunday. When the checks are tabulated the next day, everyone will know who finished among the top 15 money-earners in each event, signifying those coveted qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Thatâ€™s what makes the Stephenville rodeo so vital for the top contestants in the land.
â€śWeâ€™re giving them a chance to make it,â€ť Decker said.
Decker and other volunteers stepped up their fund-raising efforts. This year, the committee will put $47,500 into the pot, which will be added to the contestantsâ€™ entry fees to make up the overall purse. That means solid payouts for the top finishers.
Another key feature for the top cowboys in the game is in the quality of livestock. The Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo has the benefit of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo as its livestock producer. Last year alone, 27 Carr animals that were selected to buck at the NFR.
â€śAnytime Pete Carr has a rodeo, you know the stockâ€™s going to be great,â€ť said rookie Sage Kimzey, the No. 1 bull rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. â€śHis bull string is one of the best in the business.â€ť