Dedicated practice makes 15-year-old calf roper champion in major rodeo circuit, as kickoff to professional future

“I rope every day. I like to rope all day.

“Sometimes I’ll rope and tie 100 calves a day. Other times I may rope five or ten. Then, I go to rodeos and roping jackpots every weekend.”

That sounds like lots of practice and hard work, but it has paid off for rodeo champion Cooper Martin of Alma, who visited Saturday after he’d just finished roping and tying a calf in 9.5 seconds, putting him in the lead at an amateur rodeo at Shelbyville, Missouri.

“My goal was to be the champion calf roper in the United Rodeo Association last year, and I made it,” verified Martin. “I’ve won a number of youth rodeo association titles, but this one means the most to me now.”

That’s a major accomplishment for anybody, but even more impressive, considering that Martin is only 15-years-old. His competitors are mostly all adults, some two or three times his age.

Adding to that feat, Martin was also champion of the URA breakaway roping last year, competing against youth and women of all ages.

Martin didn’t have the URA Finals he’d anticipated last fall in Topeka, but when year-end titles were bestowed he had a lion’s share of the limelight. Going into the finals ranked first in calf roping and breakaway roping, Martin collected two finals checks, a $204 payback as fourth in the calf roping average, after receiving $264, for third in the third go-round of that event.

Cooper Martin, 15-year-old Alma cowboy, shows his winning style as he competes in the open calf roping at the United Rodeo Association Finals in Topeka, where he collected the yearend highpoint calf roping title riding against many cowboys two and three times his age. (Photo courtesy of TF Event Photography.)
Cooper Martin, 15-year-old Alma cowboy, shows his winning style as he competes in the open calf roping at the United Rodeo Association Finals in Topeka, where he collected the yearend highpoint calf roping title riding against many cowboys two and three times his age. (Photo courtesy of TF Event Photography.)

“However, Cooper Martin collected the year-end calf roping championship for winning $4,951, making him the youngest cowboy ever to win that URA event,” URA President Monty Dyer of Ottawa repeated. “He was also breakaway roping year-end titlist with $8,717 earnings.”

On top of that, Martin, as a freshman, tied for third in the calf roping event of the Kansas High School Rodeo Association last year and competed in the National Finals High School Rodeo Finals at Gillette, Wyoming.

After the fall run of the 2012-2013 season in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, Martin is leading the calf roping event and is in a tie for third in team roping, with Casey Adams of Junction City as his partner.

A straight “A” student in middle school, Martin chose virtual school for his high school education.

“This just works out so much better for me, so I can get to all of the rodeos and jackpots when they are, and not miss school. I do my studying when there isn’t a roping practice and competition conflict,” Martin qualified.

For this all to work, Martin credited his dad and mom, Chris and Candi Martin, and his sister Caxton, also a highly successful youth rodeo contestant.

“None of this would be possible without my parents’ support, coaching, advice, supplying the calves, and running the chute.” Martin recognized.

Horses are essential to winning, he emphasized. “I am fortunate to have the quality of horses I have, but it’s been a constant effort to find horses that will work,” Martin acknowledged.

There are four calf roping horses that he “can take to a rodeo. One of them I use mostly for practice, but I have had to use her at rodeos, and she works fine. I don’t practice much on the other horses, just run two or three calves to keep them tuned,” explained Martin.

His main rodeo calf roping horse now is a nine-year-old sorrel gelding called Taxi. “I got him about a year ago from Monty Dyer, and he’s really worked out quite well; very consistent and dependable,” Martin evaluated.

Unlike some high school rodeo contestants who have considerable dollar investment in their mounts, Martin’s mother, Candi, emphasized, “Cooper doesn’t even have $10,000 in the four horses he ropes on. He bought Taxi and a pickup with all his own earnings.

“We haven’t paid Cooper’s entry fees since he was probably eight-years-old, because he’s always won enough to keep going. We help other ways, but it sure isn’t financially,” Mom contended.

With the first spring rodeo of the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, at Kingman, April 6-7, Martin plans to attend all of those rodeos to maintain his placing at the top of the calf roping standings, and remain in the top four of team roping, to qualify for two events at this summer’s National High School Rodeo Finals.

With only a few rodeos so far in this URA season, Martin said, “I plan to go to as many of those rodeos as I can and repeat last year’s final results.”

The world record for roping and tying a calf is 5.7 seconds. Martin has already come pretty close to that when he won the calf roping at Maryville, Missouri, with a time of 6.9 seconds. His fastest time in team roping is 4.9 seconds, compared to the fasted time ever of 3.5 seconds. A second isn’t very long.

While most of his high school rodeo competitors are eyeing college rodeo teams to apply for scholarships, Martin said, “Advanced education is okay, but it’s not for me now. I plan to rodeo fulltime after high school.

“However, I do want to continue competing in high school rodeos my senior year, and my birthday is in May. So, the year I turn 18, I’m planning to rope in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association on a permit, and buy my card when I’m 19.

“I intend to make the National Finals Rodeo. That’s my goal,” Martin promised.