story by Lindsay Humphrey “I was born carrying a rope.” It’s a bold statement from 14-year-old Gunnar Tipton who’s been roping calves and heels competitively […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Cole Northcutt
story by Lindsay King
In Hobbs, New Mexico, Cole Northcutt can usually be found on the back of a horse swinging a loop. The 12-year-old lives and breathes the western way of life and rodeo. Growing up on a ranch all but required it. “Ranching with my parents (Chris and Julie) is fun. I get to go out and be around cows every day.” Branding in the spring is easily his favorite part of it all though. “I get to rope the calves and drag them to the fire usually. I am putting my skills to good use in a working environment.” The practicality of it lends itself to Cole’s life in the rodeo arena.
If it involves a rope, Cole competes in it. He heels in the team roping in addition to roping calves in tie down, ribbons and breakaway. “I have pretty much always been a heeler, but I started out as a header for a little bit. I don’t exactly know why, but I just like heeling the best.” He wasn’t born with a rope in his hand, but he managed to pick one up soon afterward. At just four years old, Cole can remember roping his first calf from the back of a horse. “It was just a real slow calf and I took a few swings over his back and I somehow caught him. That’s pretty much when I got into rodeo I would say.”
Cole isn’t the only one in the Northcutt family that competes, both his parents and 15-year-old sister Morgan are involved in the sport. Cole’s older brother Clay, 23, attends Texas Tech University and though he isn’t into rodeo like the rest of his family, he still helps out on the ranch. “My dad and I rope together at jackpots sometimes and then at home to practice of course. My mom used to compete but she mostly rides barrel colts at home. And then my sister is in high school rodeo right now.” Sometimes Cole ropes with Morgan, both at home and at jackpots. “It’s fun, most of the time,” he said with a sly grin on his face.
Heeling is the event Cole spends the majority of his practice time on. After all, it is his favorite event. “My dad and I go out to the barn to rope just about every day. He goes through the steps for heeling and roping calves. The best advice he has given me is to get a bunch of spoke because when I heel it is easier for me to follow through.” The extra spoke makes the small-framed sixth grader the tough roper he is today. Advice comes from all sides of the arena. “Mom is always telling me to get my tip down and keep my arm out and she’s right, I need to be doing that stuff better.”
Growing up rodeo has taught Cole how to rope and ride, both of which he is grateful for, but the life lessons and people stick out to him the most. “I used to play football and other sports but I quit because I liked rodeo so much better.” That was three years ago. “I’ve met a lot of great people because of rodeo and every one of them has helped me in some way. My parents too.” Some of those new faces Cole enjoyed meeting while competing as his first junior high nationals rodeo. Cole and his team roping partner, Brock Boutwell, took reserve champion in the year-end average and punched their ticket to South Dakota. Cole also won the average in the jackpot calf roping held at the NMJHSRA finals. Nationals may not have gone exactly as planned, but it certainly got Cole fired up about the upcoming season.
After winning his first team roping buckle at a junior high rodeo this past year, Cole got the confidence boost he needed. “I had gotten a few checks at other rodeos this year, but that was my first buckle. It makes me proud, even though I only caught one leg.” Roping with his friends is just a fringe benefit of doing what he loves in the NMJHSRA on the weekends. “I just want to rodeo for as long as I can.”