South Dakota Rodeo Clinics brings rodeo royalty to South Dakota
Hartford – Legendary calf roper and world champion cowboy, Roy Cooper, came to South Dakota Saturday and Sunday, April 12 and 13, to hold a calf roping and breakaway clinic at Bar T Arena north of Hartford, hosted by South Dakota Rodeo Clinics.
The 32-time National Finals-qualifier instructed 30 aspiring cowboys and cowgirls from South Dakota and Iowa with ropers aging from 10 to 21.
“We are beyond excited to have Roy Cooper here for our kids,” said Tami McKenney with South Dakota Rodeo Clinics. “Bringing the best to South Dakota’s youth in rodeo and inspiring them to be the best – that’s what our program is about.”
The clinic focused on a solid foundation of groundwork and technique, refining roping skills, dismounting, flanking and tying. Participants listened intently throughout the day as Cooper and Sean O’Neil instructed them on roping, work ethic and gratitude for those who support them.
“Kids don’t realize how much their parents invest in time, diesel, horses and fees,” remarked Cooper. “I couldn’t have made it without mine – they gave up a lot.”
“If you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best,” added McKenney, “Roy is certainly the best when it comes to calf roping.”
Professional Rodeo has been Roy Cooper’s life for more than 35 years. In 1976 Roy won his first of eight World Titles and has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 32 times, winning the prestigious NFR average title eight times. Cooper became one of only 10 men in ProRodeo to win the prestigious Triple Crown of World Championships in 1983. Roy was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979. He has won nearly every major Rodeo across the U.S. and Canada. Cooper would eventually go on to become the first cowboy to break the $2 million mark in career earnings.
“Roy is truly a living legend, and what we’ve learned is that his presence itself can be inspirational,” said Elizabeth Nesmith, executive director of the Cooper Rodeo Foundation. “We’ve seen kids change the way they rope, simply knowing Roy is watching. They know it’s a rare opportunity to rope in from of him and it just brings out something different. Part of what we want to do through the foundation is look to inspire as many lives as possible, and allow Roy’s impact to have a wider reach and clinics like this have allowed us to do that,” she added.
The Cooper Rodeo Foundation partnered with South Dakota Rodeo Clinics to award a $400 tuition reimbursement to one clinic participant. Evan Thyberg of Hartford, South Dakota was selected as this year’s award recipient, based upon his good work ethic, drive to succeed and willingness to help others, appropriately embodying the foundation’s mantra “I’m an athlete…I’m a believer…I’m an achiever.”
“I enjoy working with kids, especially when they want it, work hard and appreciate it,” said Cooper. “Then I appreciate that back.”
Of the many tips and techniques shared, one thing was emphasized, “Hard work always pays off,” added Cooper. “We’re teaching the kids how to practice, the rest is up to them.”