Meet the Member: Kali Carpenter
Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
by Kelsey Temmen
Age isn’t just a number for third-generation rodeo athlete, Raul Rodriguez; It’s 47 years’ worth of knowledge that has been passed down from his father (Roy) and grandfather (Juan, also known as “John”). Raul, who was born and raised in the rural town of Clayton, Mich., chose to remain in his hometown to start his own family. He has been able to continue the rodeo legacy on his family’s farm of over 160 acres, which is now inhabited by his nine horses and herd of Longhorn cattle. Although he has been familiar with riding since a very young age, Raul’s first rodeo did not occur until he was 13. “My family competed in rodeos and roped often. I was able to start roping when I turned 10 or so. When you’re around it like that, it’s what you want to do!” Being a part of the rodeo industry is a family affair for everyone in the Rodriguez family. Raul’s brother Ryan and his sister Mindy (Fetzer) were both active in rodeo competition. Ryan was selected as a National Finals Rodeo Contract Act/Barrelman and Mindy competed in the Michigan High School Rodeo State Finals in the women’s events. His wife, Polly, also competed in breakaway roping, pole bending, barrel racing, and goat-tying and was able to make it to the Oklahoma High School State Finals.
Family has made a huge impact on Raul’s life, both in and out of the arena. “My dad can, and always has been able to, do the unthinkable. When everyone said you can’t, he could.” With having that kind of role model in his life, Raul has been able to raise his two boys, Paxton (17) and Preston (10), into the rodeo lifestyle and customs. In Raul’s career, he has experienced two hip replacements, surgery for a torn ACL, and shoulder reconstruction surgery. While most “normal” people would retire or take it easy from their roping career, Raul enjoys practicing with his family and helping his boys to reach their goals. “I want to support them by being there and being happy for them. I just love the sport of rodeo and the independence of not having to answer to anyone. If you want to play, you go ahead and play. You don’t have to rely on a coach to tell you that you’re good enough.” It’s very important to Raul that he can play that support role for his kids.
Through-out Raul’s career, he has been an active member of the PRCA (1991), IPRA (1993), and Mid-States Rodeo Association. During that time, he has been a competitor, judge, and life-time member in those associations as well as having great involvement in the high school and college associations. As an athlete, he has competed in tie-down roping, team roping, and steer wrestling. Even-though his favorite event is tie-down roping, one of his rodeo successes was actually in steer wrestling where he placed third in the nation at the College National Finals Rodeo. “The CNFR had to be one of my favorite rodeos because I only had four years to make it happen.” As an Animal Science major at Michigan State University (MSU), Raul was very self-motivated in his rodeo career where he was one of two members of the college’s rodeo club. He competed individually in the Ozark’s region to make his 10 collegiate rodeos and practiced all summer to prepare. “If you’re not practicing, someone else is. And I hate losing!” After college, some of his other accomplishments include being a two-time judge for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo and becoming an official PRCA judge.
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