Meet the Member Jace James
story by Lindsay Humphrey At just 11 years old, Jace James has his sights set on redemption at the upcoming AJRA finals. He finished as […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Johnny Powell of Eldorado, Texas, has a fond history with the AJRA. He grew up competing in the association in the ‘60s and early ‘70s and has devoted the last eight years to serving on the board of directors while his daughter, Megan, is the second generation of Powells to rodeo with the AJRA.
“My dad got us started in roping – he was the first of our family to rope, because his dad and grandpa didn’t care for it,” says Johnny. “When he was growing up, Dad lived in Fort Worth and would stay with his grandpa on the his sheep ranch in the summer. One time, Dad took a brand new rope that he’d gotten for Christmas, and his grandpa hid it under his mattress until Dad went home.” Johnny was raised on roping, however, and competed in the AJRA 9 – 12 division. “Back when I was in high school, there was a rule in Texas that you couldn’t accept money and play high school sports, so I played sports for about four years and then did another year and a half with the AJRA,” Johnny recalls.
After high school, Johnny competed on Texas A&M University’s rodeo team in steer wrestling and tie-down roping, and today, the 60 year old continues to tie-down rope in the Texas Senior Pro Rodeo Association, as well as Ultimate Calf Ropings. Johnny’s wife, Claire, is a barrel racer, and the two of them have coached Megan, 18, who has been competing in the AJRA for ten years. She served as the AJRA Vice-President, while Johnny served on the board as a director for two years before his six year stint as the AJRA Chairman of the Board and arena director. He recently stepped down from the board since Megan is a senior, though she plans to rodeo as much as she can with the AJRA next summer.
“I think the association does a great job of motivating kids – I love watching them improve and seeing their hard work pay off,” says Johnny. “It’s a great character builder, and it teaches winning and losing and how to be a good sportsman. We have a great family atmosphere and a lot of camaraderie. The association is all volunteer help.” When Johnny was elected as Chairman of the Board in 2008, the AJRA was going through some lean times as more high school rodeos and junior rodeo associations were established. “I enjoyed the challenge of helping get the association back up,” says Johnny. “We give over $100,000 in prizes every year, and this year they’re adding $35,000 to the finals.”
Since stepping down from the board, Johnny is looking forward to roping more, though running 3,000 head of commercial ewes keeps him on his toes. “My family has been in the sheep business for 135 years,” Johnny explains. “We also raise some cattle and a few horses, but we mainly run sheep – we do all our gathering on horseback.” Megan helps on the ranch, as well as her older brother, Marty, who just finished serving in the U.S. Army and returned from Afghanistan ten months ago. “Marty got married about a month ago and he’s back working for us – we’re tickled to death to have him back!” says Johnny. Meanwhile, Megan is looking at colleges and is considering rodeoing for West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, next fall.
“If we do anything other than rodeo, we might fish, but rodeo is our main source of entertainment,” says Johnny. “My wife takes her horses to barrel futurities, and I’m looking forward to roping more.” He adds, “I would encourage anyone looking for a place to junior rodeo to consider the AJRA. We’re going strong with about 200 members, and it’s a great place to junior rodeo again!”
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