I’m Not Done Yet

 photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

My son and two seconds of a run gave me the confidence to go for it again.

by Jade Corkill


 

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I’ve been told I’m a perfectionist or that I’m too hard on myself. I’ve never been a proud guy. I’ve never felt egotistical about my accomplishments, even after I won the world title three years in a row. To be honest, even when I was at the top of the leaderboard, I still questioned if I belonged there.

The year after my winning streak, 2015, I could feel the tide changing. It’s not like 2015 was awful. Clay Tryan and I placed in three rounds at the National Finals. I finished eighth in the world and thirteenth at the NFR with a stiff competition of heelers. But it should have been better.

I didn’t compete in the PRCA in 2016 because I was competing in the ERA. I came back in 2017, but it was still subpar to me. I finished tenth in the world and twelfth at the NFR.

The truth is, I lost my confidence—every ounce of it. At least for a while.

When you’re on the road, you don’t have much practice time. You can’t waste runs being experimental in your technique. You can’t afford to waste steers like that. You don’t get to be selfish in team roping, because you have a partner who is depending on you. His family is depending on you to do your job.

I was frustrated. My heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t want to be “that partner.” I didn’t want to ruin a friendship. So I stayed home this season to figure out what went wrong. It was a hard decision. I’ve been team roping my whole life. I hated not going. I feel like I’m supposed to hit the road for months at a time. I’ve never known anything different.

Me and my family spent the summer in Nevada at my parent’s place. The Bob Feist Invitational was in June in Reno. I went to that with no luck, further proof to me that I was still missing something in my roping.

The Spicer Gripp Memorial Roping took us back to Texas. I still didn’t do any good. I was starting to feel like the old guy. What was I missing? Had I really fallen from the top of my game that much?

I was back to wondering if I even belonged in rodeo.

These days, guys are roping as fast as they can possibly go every single run. There used to be a time when you’d run one head and you could tell if it might win. Now there’s no telling. Every rodeo is like a short round, and every position matters. Going last means more than ever.

In mid-September, Colby Lovell and I headed to another jackpot. I try to always have someone film my run. That’s a learning opportunity you shouldn’t waste. The next day I was watching my run, and I saw it. One extremely small detail. I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed it before. I don’t know if it was the angle or I was just paying attention. But I knew I needed to make a change in the length of my rope and in the coil of my rope.

A change that small—a thing that happened in less than two seconds—has given me my confidence back. I feel like my old self again. I’ve got a new horse that I’m really excited about, and I feel like I have the competitive edge it takes to win these days.

My son Colby is almost eight, and he likes to practice with me. He also makes a good coach. Kids tell you exactly how it is. A couple weeks ago, Colby told me that he missed me roping. I was recoiling my rope, and he just blurted it out. I looked over at him on his horse, and he asked me when I was going to go on the road again, and if he could come with me. Colby’s like an old man. He never likes leaving home! I told him I’d think about it.

It hit my heart, though, so I’m going back out.

People always tell you kids grow up fast, but you don’t realize what they’re talking about until you notice all you’re missing. This year I actually got to spend time with my sons. I still plan to coach baseball for them in the spring and be there for school in the fall. And I plan to take them with me as much as I can.

But I’m not done yet. If I go, I’m making a run for Vegas. The rodeo count gives me sixty-five rodeos to make that happen, and I’m going to give it my best shot.

 
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