PSN: What was it like last year qualifying for your first Wrangler NFR?
CC: It was awesome. It was worth all the things a guy has to do to get there all the bad roads, the long night drives, people telling you that you are not good enough, the ups and downs of the sport it was all worth it. It was like a mirage for so long because it seemed like each hump you got over, it was going to be there, but it wasn't.
PSN: What was the difference last year in your success?
CC: My horses started getting good, and they were more seasoned. That helped me set the run up better for Richard, giving him better looks. Having confidence in your horse gives you more confidence in yourself.
PSN: How did you and Richard become partners?
CC: I had roped the summer of 2004 with Mike Beers and after Pendleton, Ore., he wanted to stay closer to home and put on schools. Richard and I started roping at the U.S. Team Roping Championship Finals in Oklahoma City that year, and we went from there.
PSN: What was one thing Mike Beers taught you that has helped you in your career?
CC: Probably just the ins and outs of rodeo how to enter, which ones to go to and just the core business of rodeo. Also, when we would go and practice, we would focus more on quality versus quantity, and every time we left the practice pen, we were really sharp.
PSN: What makes a good team roping team?
CC: Having a consistent and/or fast partner. You look at teams like Speed and Rich. Speed would get it on them fast, and Rich would clean it up. Clay and Patrick are just an awesome team, and they can be consistent and fast. Clay has a great horse, and he can pretty much do whatever he feels like he needs to in any given situation. They are good with any setup from Salinas to the Finals.
PSN: What rodeo has the toughest team roping setup?
CC: Pendleton probably has the toughest, but it is probably one of my favorite places to go. I like those types of rodeos like Cheyenne (Wyo.), Salinas (Calif.) and Guymon (Okla.). They are just fun, and it is not so much the degree of difficulty, but who can go out there and catch.
PSN: What do you like most about rodeo?
CC: All the different people you meet, and if you are good enough, you don't have to have a boss. I used to shoe enough horses at the rodeos to pay my fees just so I didn't have to go get a real job with a boss. The joy of being self-employed definitely has its benefits.
PSN: What has been the most memorable moment of your career thus far?
CC: Stepping into the arena for the first time at the Wrangler NFR. When I first got to the Finals, I had to shoe a horse, but when I could finally break away and walk down to the arena, that was the best feeling I had ever had. In fact, I walked down to the heading box and made a dirt angel. I couldn't believe I was actually there and didn't want that feeling to leave. I had waited my whole life to get there, and even after the 10 days of competition, I still had that feeling. That is by far the best single moment of my life that I can remember, and that feeling has helped motivate me for this year.
PSN: Most likeable team roper?
CC: Clay O'Brien Cooper without a doubt. He is my hero. He is by far the best man I have ever seen rope. His mental attitude is unbelievable, and his roping skills and horsemanship definitely set the standard for ropers. I love watching him rope and just the way he carries himself. If he misses a steer, he reacts the same way as if he had just won the rodeo. That is tough to do out here. I am not that way, but I am trying to be more like that. I am one who lets my emotions show, and it can be a roller coaster at times. If I am up, I am really up, but if I am down, I am really down.
PSN: What would you do if you were commissioner of the PRCA for a day?
CC: I would first tell the Commissioner right now that he is doing a good job. If I could change anything, I would try and get equal money in the team roping. We all have to pay the same amount to travel as the other guys, but then when we win, we only get half the pay since there are two of us. We might not be the most exciting event out there, but we have a huge fan base, and it is truly a ranch event. It is a little like golf, in that it is one event most people will try or do after they are through competing in other rodeo events.
PSN: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
CC: It has been so long since I have had any free time, I don't remember what I enjoy doing. I mostly enjoy just having some down time to relax. I enjoy going home and just being on the ranch away from the arena and doing typical ranch work like branding cattle.
PSN: How did you get involved in rodeo?
CC: My dad, Chuck, was a good roper and rode bareback horses and that is how I got started. My dad was a good horseman and he passed some of that on to me. He has been a big influence in my career.
PSN: Do you consider yourself a morning person or a night-owl?
CC: Most definitely a night owl. I am a bear in the morning, and there are times I even annoy myself.
PSN: Favorite place to eat?
CC: The Western Skies in San Angelo, Texas. In fact, it was so good that when I got back from San Angelo the end of February, I got engaged. On Valentine's Day, she just wanted to have beer and pizza and go back home and watch the Olympics. After she said that, I knew there was no reason for me to keep looking.
PSN: Favorite home-cooked meal?
CC: Elk steak is probably my favorite, but I also enjoy my mom's grilled tuna sandwiches and macaroni and cheese with hot dog pieces mixed in.
PSN: Favorite TV show?
CC: Friends. I have all their episodes, so I can watch them over and over.
PSN: Are you a college basketball fan and if so, who do you think will win this year's tournament?
CC: I don't usually get a chance to watch during the year, but March Madness is some good stuff. I am hoping Gonzaga goes all the way. That is about the only team up in our country, and those guys are fun to watch. Adam Morrison and I have a lot in common in that we have a hard time keeping our emotions in check.
PSN: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
CC: It would have to be somewhere on a warm island with umbrellas in the drinks, some place like Margaritaville.
PSN: If you weren't a professional rodeo cowboy, what do you think you would be doing?
CC: I would probably be changing tires at a local Les Schwab in Oregon, so I am glad that I am a cowboy.
PSN: What keeps you motivated to want to rodeo?
CC: I love the sport, and I am a huge fan. I am beginning to know several people in the sport, and I enjoy watching them compete and enjoy rooting for them. Also, having rounds like the ninth round of the team roping at last year's Finals keeps a guy motivated. That was the most unbelievable round of team roping I had ever seen, and it just makes a guy want to go out there and match those quick times.
PSN: What are your goals for this year?
CC: Just to have a better year than we did last year and just keep getting better. A guy always dreams of a world title, but making a living doing this is just as important. I want to keep making the Finals and get better by watching the greats of our sport. Watching a guy like Jake Barnes and seeing the amount of determination he has is unbelievable. Seeing someone like that keeps a guy motivated.
PSN: Who are some of your rodeo idols?
CC: Growing up, I always enjoyed watching the Etbauer brothers and Tyler Magnus has been a big influence in my career. He gave me a job when I needed one and helped me get back on my feet. I stay at his place now when I am in Texas, and he helps me a lot with my roping. He is like a coach, and any time I am in a rut, I can call him and he will help me out.
The Cowboy Grille appears in each issue of the ProRodeo Sports News which is published bi-weekly by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. For more information or to subscribe, contact them by clicking here.