story by Lindsey Fancher Trying something new was worth the risk for fourteen-year-old, Preslee Johnson. One year after tying a goat for the first time, […]
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Meet the Member Cayden Summers
This fifteen-year-old cowboy from Church Point, LA has his pre-competition routine down to a science. All Cayden Summers needs is a sunrise, a roping dummy, and good music to get himself into a mindset that will win him some points at his next high school rodeo. It is in these quiet moments at the crack of dawn before he has to saddle up his horse, Buddy, that he visualizes the perfect tie down and team roping runs. Cayden is country to the core, but rock and roll is his sound for success. The most recent buckle he’s earned this season was considered to be won by Cayden before his heading partner, CJ Covalt, even nodded his head. “Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean came on and I knew it was going to be a good run,” he said, “I had asked the announcer to play it for our run. After winning that rodeo, you bet I’ll be asking for that song again.”
Cayden competed in an amateur rodeo in the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth this Spring, only this tie down run was a little more humbling than his team roping victory to follow. He said, “They gave me a calf twice my size. He took me down and dragged me all the way down the pen. The crowd laughed and I did too. Luckily nobody missed it, it was sold out that night.”
Even after the monster calf at Cowtown, Cayden is still addicted to the adrenaline that comes with tie down roping. Although he will continue team roping, Cayden always knew he was destined to tie down rope. Both his dad, Brent, and his older brother, Collin roped calves back in high school, Cayden was exposed to the event before he could walk. “I breakaway roped when I was a kid because I wanted to be like the tie down ropers I saw in the NFR,” he said, “Now that I’m old enough, I can say it’s better doing it than watching it.” Cayden graduated from breakaway roping to tie down roping and team roping when he was big enough. When his good friend, CJ, needed a heeler for the high school team roping, Cayden fit the bill. CJ is graduating this year, but conveniently for Cayden, his younger brother, Colton, who competes as a header, will be a freshman next year. “Colton has big boots to fill,” says Cayden on heeling with his brother.
For fun, Cayden golfs with his older brother, Collin. He enjoys golf, but not as much as he adores tie down roping. When asked what roping and golf have in common Cayden answered, “As far as I know, nothing, because I’m not good at golf.” Cayden goes to high school at Beau Chene High School, but would spend all day hauling and roping if he could. “It’s hard to balance school and rodeo, but I know if I want to rope bad enough, I’ll make the grades happen.”
Although tie down roping is Cayden’s true passion, he practices both of his rodeo events with precision and devotion. He ropes daily on both the dummy and on steers. Brent helps to coach Cayden on fine-tuning his technique, yet it’s pro calf roper, Tyson Durphey, that inspires Cayden to practice so vigorously. “Tyson says if you don’t work hard and put in the effort you need to, you’ll never make it. If I haven’t been working as hard as I have been, CJ and I never would have won that buckle. I know if I put in the practice, success will come,” he says. Brent recognizes the work Cayden has put into his roping, and is certain it will pay off, “The more he goes the better he gets,” he says, “We’re gearing him up for next year and are looking toward a state and even a shot at a national championship.”
Cayden qualified for Hooey’s Junior Patriot last year in the calf roping and it is his goal to qualify again. He hopes to win more money the next time around. He considers mindset to be the biggest obstacle that he’s had to overcome in big competitions like the Patriot. “Sometimes after a bad practice, I won’t go into a rodeo with the positive mindset that I need,” says Cayden, “If my ‘What ifs?’ are positive instead of negative, I rope a lot better.” At the end of the day, Cayden knows that rodeo is something he can never give up on. “Rodeo is the only thing I have ever done, I know I don’t do anything better or love anything more than rodeo,” he admits, “That’s why professional rodeoing has always been my dream, and I’m doing everything in my power to achieve it.”
Editors Note: After this interview, Cayden broke his ankle after trying out a new calf roping horse prospect. Although he will have to miss Louisiana State Finals, he is in good spirits, and is looking forward to a healthy and speedy recovery after surgery. He will be able to prepare for next rodeo season this Fall.