This last weekend I had the opportunity to go with my dad to Joplin Regional Stockyards and attend the "Best of the Best" calf roping. The top 15 calf ropers in the world, along with 12 invited ropers (many of whom were just as good) all competed for a purse totaling $100,000, with the winner of short round taking home $20,000 alone. Needless to say, I was quite excited for this opportunity, but I really had no idea the perspective and experience I would encounter.
Before I continue, it's probably a proper introduction to say that many of these guys I have followed at the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) every year and I guess you could say that I do idolize some of them...in a good way. I'll never forget approaching the sponsor tent on Saturday and having 17-time world champion roper and King of the Cowboys Trevor Brazile walk within 5 feet of me....I turned to my dad and said, "That's probably the closest you'll ever get to him!"
It was an absolutely amazing experience meeting icons such as Trevor, Tuf & Clint Cooper, legends Fred Whitfield and Blair Burke, and "Shazam" Matt Shiozawa. But the story gets even cooler....
Most places where people of national recognition are gathered keep those individuals rather protected and secure. Fans are generally limited to both time and access of their heroes. But not at the Best of the Best. Not only was I able to stand within 5 feet of one of my greatest roping icons (and later get a picture with him), but as dad and I milled around the crowd, we found that all the ropers were right amongst us visiting, signing autographs and taking pictures...as if they were just another person. We were quite surprised at the casual atmosphere, and looking back I wish I had taken the opportunity to visit with some of them more, but the experience was as close to a dream as you can get.
|I never would've guessed in a million years I would actually|
meet one of the greatest ropers of all times and one of my heroes
17 time World Champion roper Trevor Brazile.
Trevor Brazile, Tuf & Clint Cooper and Stran Smith are four of the best ropers in the world. They have set world records and are legends in their own time. But the thing that I admire most about these three cowboys is how they profess their faith. Of the five autographs I got on Saturday, three gave reference to God and Jesus.
They are Christians before they are cowboys and they never let a opportunity pass to give credit where credit is due.
And as for young Mr Tuf, on his shirt collar "Jesus" is embroidered and every time he is interviewed at the NFR, he never ceases to credit God for his success.
Many athletic celebrities get caught up in the life of fame and fortune and forget who they once were. But for these cowboys, the only difference between them and me is they make a lot of money throwing a rope...they're still a cowboy, a human and a down-to-earth normal person. They will carry on a conversation and visit with you like you're their next door neighbor. They're genuine, they're real, they're true Christian cowboys.