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Meet the Member Jake Toberer
story by Lindsay King
“They call me Jet at rodeos, those are my initials. I learned how to write them in kindergarten and asked my mom to enter me as that,” said 14-year-old Jake “Jet” Toberer from Mount Ulla, North Carolina. A bull rider through and through but Jet is also an accomplished chute dogger, breakaway roper, ribbon roper, and team roper, on both the heading and heeling side. “I started riding calves when I was about six and roping when I was seven. My brother, Zack, roped and so I roped the dummy a little bit. But I learned from Jerold Camarillo when we lived in California.” Mike, his dad, and Zack are world champion mule packers and attended competitions regularly while living in California. “My dad got a contract teaching special forces in the military how to pack mules with big guns, which brought us to North Carolina when I was nine.”
Jet also has two younger sisters: Grace, 12, and Faith, 6. Just about every weekend of the year the whole family is on the rodeo road. “It is fun to have them all there to support me and help get ready for the next events.” The family homeschools through Western Classical Academy to have more time for roping and riding. Jet will be a freshman this year and enjoys math the most. “I like to know how numbers work and I would like to be an engineer some day. I might make some roping dummys and sleds to pull behind the four wheeler, engineer the new brand of dummy maybe.” Jet produces his own goat roping events, a precursor to building his own roping series in the future. He aspires to rodeo professionally in the future as well.
There is a tie between team roping and bull riding for Jet’s favorite event. “Team roping is fun because you can do it with family but I like the adrenaline rush from bull riding.” Three trips to the junior high national finals left him with some tough second go rounds but ultimately good trips. This year his calf horse, Rio, was named the AQHA Reserve Champion Horse of the Year while at nationals. “I was leading the all-around after the first round at nationals because I placed in the top four of the bull riding and goat tying. I had a tough second round but finished 13th in the breakaway roping. This was my third trip to nationals, and it was the best of the three.” Jet also took home third place honors in the talent contest because of his skills on a five-foot-tall unicycle. “My grandparents wanted to get us all something and I asked for a unicycle. I watched videos and taught myself how to ride it. I can rope goats tied to a stake from it but I can juggle on my shorter unicycle.” Jet’s role model is his dad, he admires his work ethic most. “He teaches us that if we work hard we can achieve anything we want.”
Jet has always wanted to go watch the Pendleton Roundup, the grass adds a degree of difficulty he would like to see and experience in person. Jet originally learned how to rope in the branding pen but got his competitive advice from Gerald Kimber while living in California. “Rio came from Gerald. Rio just runs hard to the calf and scores well, he is a great horse to ride.” Jet’s family frequently visits Gerald in California. Zack spent the summer with him before heading back to college in New Mexico. “My brother told me I could use Rio full-time once he went off to college so it was fun to do that this year. Zack has helped make me into the roper that I am today.”
The highly competitive nature of the JSRA calls for talented horses and riders. “The competition in the JSRA makes me a lot better. I have to work a lot harder to get to finals at the end of the year. Plus, there is a lot to do at all the rodeos.” Jet is thankful for his sponsors at American Hat Company, Pheonix Performance Products and Outlaw Spirit for helping him up and down the rodeo road this year. Jet also wants to put credit where it is due: to God, his family, friends, Jerold Camarillo and Ryan McClure for helping him through each rodeo season, propelling him to the next.