story by Laura Martin When Jim Persinger discovered the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association in 2012, feeling like he could still compete at the age […]
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Meet the Member: Jim Wales
story by Terry Rhodes
Jim Wales is the header for the team that has won NSPRA World Team Roping titles for the last two years. He has been a member of the organization for 24 years. Jim says that it’s a love of rodeo that keeps him coming back to the Senior Pro Rodeo Association events. “It’s an open rodeo; if you meet the age requirements, you can rodeo with us. I love the people there; I’ve made some lifelong friends from Senior Pro Rodeo. With all the jackpots around, there are so many options to rope at today. You have to love the sport of rodeo. The people that come to the Senior Pros come because they love to rodeo and my partner and I do too.”
As mentioned last month, Jim and Willy not only walked off with both of the 2015 Senior Pro Rodeo World Championship Team Roping titles for the 60’s bracket, but they won the SNFR Average for the that division. The titles they won in 2015 are just a repeat of their 2014 Senior Pro Rodeo World Team Roping Championships and SNFR Average wins. “I am really proud of that,” says Jim. “There are a lot of good people in the Senior Pro and everyone that ropes want to win, but when someone beats you, you’re happy for them. It wasn’t exactly that way in the PRCA. We’re doing this now for the love of the sport.” Willy and Jim also won the 2013 SNFR Average Team Roping Reserve titles. Besides his wins with Willy, Jim won the team roping World title in 2001 with Walter Baxter.
The Wales-Kelton team has a connection that goes back to junior rodeo days for both of them. “We’ve roping together off and on for 40 years. Not continuously, but since junior rodeo when we were kids and in the PRCA. We do have a lot of past knowledge to draw on and it probably is a little advantage but we don’t look at it that way. Like most of the Senior Pro competitors, we just try to make the best run on the steer we’ve drawn.”
Jim, like Willy has business commitments that limits the time that he can go to Senior Pro rodeos. “Willy is a rancher and I’m a hay farmer. My son runs the operation, but I’m still very active in the business. When the NSPRA went to the regional qualification system, that helped us in our situation. We’ve roped well at the Finals and were able to win World titles.” Jim’s rodeo life began with the help of his father that rodeoed. “I really appreciate him putting me on the path to be a roper. Rodeo is a way of life and those that don’t do it won’t understand it.”
When Jim backs in the box he lets his practice come into play and he goes to auto-pilot mode to let muscle memory do its job. “I do ride the very best horses I can. My horses are predominantly Driftwood and Leo bred. I have ridden Driftwood horses all my life. My son-in-law, John Clark has taken over the training and I give him all the credit for how my horses work for me.”
Jim lives near Queen Creek, Ariz. on land that his family has farmed for 100 years. Jim and his wife, Mary Ann have three children and seven grandchildren. “I have the greatest wife and kids in the world. And my son-in-law is great with the horses.” If Jim isn’t roping, he’s working on the farm seven days a week.
He says that J.C. Dickens, another NSPRA member, has been a major influence in his life. “I talk with him frequently and he keeps me grounded through his very deep religious beliefs. He helps me be a better human being.”
Goals for the future are to continue just what he’s doing now. “I’m a cancer survivor and everyday is special. I love my life.”