“Rope ’im. Jump down and rope ’im.”
That was the sideline advice.
Then: “I got ’im. Heel ’im.”
A second loop thrown, and: “I got ’im.”
Lariats were stretched tight, as the steel steer roping dummy came off the ground, while standers-by applauded.
Grins spread on faces of then still just three-year-old Coleman Proctor and barely five-year-old Jake Long for a “world class” team roping run in front of the bleachers at the June 24, 1989, rodeo.
Tiny tot cowboy rodeo action was recorded on movie camera by Samantha Proctor for perpetuity, and now has much more significance than many could have really imaged that starry night.
Yet, somebody was surely heard to say: “They’re on the right track for the National Finals. They’ll make a top team someday.”
Well, sure enough the little cowboys grew up and have turned eyes their way many times team roping at Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events around the country.
Proctor and Long partnered up highly successfully team roping at the recent National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now of Pryor, Oklahoma, Proctor was on the heading end, and Long, of Coffeyville, the only Kansas based cowboy there, roped heels.
A considerably different scenario than their roping dummy practice runs more than 25 years earlier, cowboy and roping were obviously in their blood early and continued to grow in dedicated practice that reaped enviable results during this year’s battle of the best in ’Vegas.
As for all qualified competitors entered, it was a busy, most strenuous 10 days of cowboys, on horses, roping and stretching cattle.
“We were all so tickled,” likely would be the best synopsis of the results as excitedly expressed by Pam Weatherby, Long’s mom, from her home in Coffeyville, after returning from the finals. “I wouldn’t have missed it. They were just great,” she contended.
Non could question the analysis, as the Proctor-Long team went to ’Vegas ninth place in the world standings, won the fifth go-round, placed second in the second-go, and ranked fifth or sixth in four other rounds.
That moved the Kansas-Oklahoma lifelong friends-team ropers into fourth place in the average and better yet to third and fourth, respectively, in the yearend world standings.
“We weren’t looking to win any rounds, just be in the top four, and it came together in the fifth round, and we came close in the second round. We had trouble on our first steer and in the eighth round; those no times don’t add up too good, or we’d have been higher in the average,” Long said last Wednesday noon after pulling into Morganville, Texas, on Tuesday morning early, upon returning from ‘Vegas.
“Our address is Coffeyville, that’s really home, but we have a house here in Texas, in order to go to more rodeos and roping events,” Long explained.
“Oh yeh, I remember that home movie they’ve made into a video. Coleman and I’ve been lifelong friends. We’re excited to be roping together. We’ve had a good year and had good finals, all in all,” Long admitted.
The behind the scenes home movie rodeo action of two-and-a-half-decades ago now in video form has gone viral on Facebook, with nearly 4,000 views as the finals was startling, and surely multiples of that by now.
One of probably many analyzed the fun historical action: “It is really cool to know that as lifelong friends they are roping together at the National Finals Rodeo. When you hear contestants say, ‘I’ve dreamed about this all my life…,’ that’s unquestionably the case with Jake Long and Coleman Proctor.”
Long followed in boot steps of his parents Crickett Long, a rancher, and Pam Weatherby a teacher, as both competed successful in amateur rodeos.
Going into the finals, Proctor had collected $75,710 heading steers in professional rodeos, and Long, who’s teamed with a couple other heelers on occasions, totaled just a grand more at $76,710, according to published, but clarified “unofficial,” 2014 world standings on November 10.
The world standings published last week, December 16, 2014, listed Proctor’s header earnings at $149,574.13, to be fourth in the yearend header results.
Just a few dollars can sure make a difference where one ends up as Long’s heeler earnings tallied $150,574.13, to be third among the world among team roping heelers.
A quick review of the Finals’ rounds: Their Round 5 win was in 4.1 seconds, and their Round 2, second place run was 4.5 seconds.
The Kansas-Oklahoma team ropers were fifth in Round 7, and Round 9, with 6.5 seconds, and 4.6 seconds, respectively. They split fifth and sixth in Round 3, with 4.3 seconds, and were sixth in Round 6, with 5.5 seconds.
All totaled Proctor-Long had a time of 52.8 seconds on eight steers, with qualified times.
Only one team, header Clay Tryan and heeler Jade Corkill roped ten steers in 70.1 seconds. They were the world champions in both heading and heeling with $220,057.52, total yearend each, obviously roping together at every PRCA rodeo this year.
Two teams had qualified runs on nine steers: Jake Barnes and Junior Nogueira in 57.1 seconds, and Aaron Tsingine and Clay O’Brien Cooper in 71.4 seconds.
Three other teams had qualified runs on eight steers, all slower times than Proctor-Long.
Rehashing the ten rounds again, Long rationalized: “We’re all human, and there are so many variables with team roping. In the first round, Coleman had the steer roped, but it just came right off. In the eighth round, it was an illegal head catch.”
While it’s a qualified run, and the team often places when the heeler only gets one back leg, Long contended, “It’s basically a miss to me. But, I did catch two by a leg, so we had a time, which was a big deal in the average this time.”
It takes a partner, cattle, a top roper and coinciding logistics, but horsepower might be the most important of all, according to Long.
“I roped on my sorrel ten-year-old Quarter Horse gelding called Colonel. He’s big, strong, fast, and solid, doesn’t make any mistakes, and is a real blessing. Colonel was voted third in the PRCA heeling horse of the year balloting,” the cowboy credited.
A backup horse called Iron Man stood ready if needed, and Long is most appreciative he still has Mickey, the horse Long’s ridden at some previous finals. “Mickey is 15, now I guess, and he gets sore sometimes, but I can always fall back on him if I’m short of horsepower,” Long noted.
This was Long’s fourth time at the national finals, 2011, through 2012, and barely missing being a qualifier a year ago. “I was 16th in the world standings. That’s almost worse than being lower at the year’s end,” evaluated Long, who’s also had Tour Finale qualifications in the same years he’s been to the finals.
Highlights for Long this year include winning rodeos with Proctor at Hill City, Kansas; the American Royal in Kansas City; Sikeston, Missouri; and St. Paul, Oregon. With Jesse Stipes heading, Long as the heeler also won the rodeo at Beggs, Oklahoma.
The past two years, Long has heeled for Travis Tryan, and he roped with Brady Tryan in 2010, and 2011.
Proctor headed for Long in 2007, 2008 and 2009. “We like to rope together, and it seems to work out much of the time, certainly this year,” Long evaluated.
With a degree in agriculture business from Northwestern Oklahoma State, Long and his wife Tasha, also a Northwestern grad, have two children, Haven, six, and Haizlee, two.
“My family travels with me to rodeos most of the time, which has really been a blessing. That might have to change some as the kids become involved in school activities,” Long said.
Now taking it easy during the holiday season, Long said, “I’ll go to amateur rodeos and jackpots around close. A buddy down the road has steers, so we are able to keep tuned up. I’ve been going to the 2015 pro rodeos this fall, and I’ll crack out at the pro rodeo Odessa, Texas, right after the first of the year.”
What’s his game plan for 2015? “Pretty much the same ole deal. I’ll hit the good rodeos during the winter and spring, maybe 15 or 20, not go so hard. But, by the middle of June, it’ll pick up, and we’ll be on the road solid for three months going to rodeos all around the country,” Long planned.
Although Long, six-feet-tall, 206-pounds, did limited tie down calf roping during school days, he sticks to the team roping event now. “I’ve done some heading. I can rope either end, but I’m really a heeler. I’ve mainly heeled,” he said.
“Rodeo is a great life, and to have the success makes it even better. I’m really fortunate to be living my dream,” Facebook video star-professional team roping heeler, third best in the world today, Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kansas, analyzed.