story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Michael Calmelat
story by Lily Weinacht
It’s been more than four years since Michael Calmelat missed a weekend of roping. The 38-year-old team roper and father of two from Tucson, Ariz., enters ropings and rodeos across Arizona and even into neighboring states through the PRCA Turquoise Circuit, but competing locally, especially with his kids, gives him the greatest happiness. “It’s a rollercoaster to ride the highs and lows of team roping, and I love everything about it!” says Michael. “All my family and I want to do is rope and rodeo – it’s a passion we have.”
Michael was 15 before his goal to team rope was realized. His dad grew up on a ranch and introduced rodeo to the Calmelat family. As the youngest of six kids, with a considerable age difference between him and his next sibling, Michael watched his brothers and sisters practice, but didn’t have long to join them in the arena. “My dad got hurt in 1980 and ended up selling everything, but then we moved from California to Tucson, and in about 1992, I found a place to start roping,” Michael recalls. Today, he enters most events with his nephew, Anthony Calmelat. “I usually head at rodeos – Anthony heels really well, so I have a good partner that makes me want to head.” Michael himself was the 2014 GCPRA Year-End Team Roping Header, while he also competes in a number of WSTR ropings, as well as jackpots.
When it comes to inspiration, Michael doesn’t have to look much further than the rodeo grounds. “I like to listen to the older guys tell stories when we’re sitting at rodeos– not just to learn things from them, but to find out how roping was back then, and how it’s evolved,” explains Michael. He coaches his daughter, Angelina (14), and son, Michael (7) also known as Little Michael, in their roping. “We have an arena and about ten roping steers, and my son ropes whenever I do, which is about four times a week. He and my daughter also rope together. Angelina heads and Michael heels, and winning ropings with my kids is pretty cool.” The brother and sister’s mom, Rachel Mendoza, also ropes, entering jackpots and GCPRA rodeos and she’s also qualified for the GCPRA finals several times. She and Michael have additionally taken a summer to rodeo throughout the Northwest in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
No matter the next destination, Michael’s head horse, Kitty, is always in the trailer. The 14-year-old mare has been his main horse for the last seven or eight years. “She’s kind of bad in the box, but she’s been great for me,” says Michael. “She has some miles on her, so I have some colts I’m riding. I have one that I’ve been riding at the rodeos lately. I don’t buy a lot of made horses, mostly because the kind I’d like are $15,000 – $20,000. Ever since I started roping, I’ve always had three or four young horses to ride.”
During the week, Michael runs his own tree service, which he is able to schedule around jackpots and rodeos. “My dad did it his whole life, and now it’s how I fund this whole rodeo deal, and my schedule is flexible,” says Michael. “There’s a lot going on down here – a guy can rope somewhere every day of the week from December to March.
“At some point I would love to rodeo all year long one year and make the PRCA finals,” he says of his goal. “I’d want to go from Denver to Cheyenne – all the big rodeos in one year and see what would happen!”