story by Lindsay Humphrey Long before the sun comes up in Shiprock, New Mexico, Julius Y. Begay can be found putting some miles in on […]
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Meet the Member John Foster
story by Lindsay Humphrey
John didn’t have any interest in rodeo in his earlier teenage years. He quickly changed his tune at 16 when his buddies all started riding bulls. “I rode bulls for a few years in high school before switching to saddle bronc. I went to college on a rodeo scholarship and then competed in the PRCA until 1996 when I broke my leg in 8 places. I basically crushed it,” said the 2017 NSPRA Saddle Bronc Champion. At 34 years old, John had to trade in his bronc saddle for crutches for about two years. That’s when he was blessed with his daughter, Brooke.
“I ended up raising her as a single dad since she was only a year old. All I dreamed about since I was a teenager was rodeo, and then I got hurt so I didn’t think about it much for quite a while.” At 15 years old, Brooke was diagnosed with cancer. She fought hard for two years but passed away. “It was tough, the best years of my life where raising my daughter. Afterward, I needed something to do. Obviously, I could never replace her, but I had to do something.” John ventured back to his first love: rodeo. This ultimately led him to the NSPRA.
John rode saddle broncs for another five years before he was faced with significant adversity yet again in 2017. “It was the middle of the season when I broke my back, some ribs, an arm, and I was knocked out in the arena for quite a while.” John recovered and loaded right back up in the chute. Of course, he was nervous, but his courage paid off when he won his next two rodeos, which was enough to put him in first place heading toward the end of the season. But at the very last rodeo of the season, John shattered his wrist. He promptly headed back home to Texas for surgery and five weeks later he was competing at the finals in a brace. “I wasn’t just nervous to get back on, I was scared. But I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t nod.”
In John’s high school days, harboring a PRCA permit was fairly common. His run in the PRCA was not only fairly long, but it was also well decorated. “There was a year that everything they ran under me couldn’t get me off. And those were some pretty great horses too.” One of his proudest accomplishments was scoring a 94 at a pro rodeo. “The horse bucked super hard and he went straight in front of the chutes and headed toward the fence. In my peripheral vision I saw the crowd jump up and start running because they thought we were coming over the fence because he was bucking so hard,” he said with a chuckle at the fond memory.
Many of John’s fond memories from rodeo have nothing to do with the inside of the arena at all. “The great thing about rodeo, other than competing, is the people you meet. They become your friends for life. It could be ten years since you last saw someone, but you just pick up where you left off.” One of those lifer friends is Robert Mims, who John traveled with for several years. “He’s just a great person, and everybody loves him. But he’s very competitive. I always wanted to be around the best when I was traveling because they made you feel like you needed to be better. That was Robert.”
John has found the same breed of people in the NSPRA. “There are a lot of past NFR cowboys here, there are some real hands in the NSPRA.” Regardless of the competition, when things get tough for John, he thinks of the battle Brooke fought. “My daughter has played a big role in helping me refrain from quitting, especially when I got hurt real bad that one year. She helps me keep going.”