story by Michele Toberer Raring to go and ready for rodeo, Gabe Davidson cannot wait to hit the reset button on his rodeo career. The […]
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Meet the Member Judd Pope
story by Michele Toberer
As the third and youngest brother in the Pope family, 13-year-old Judd is proud to be stepping into the bronc riding boots of his older brothers, Ty and Jess Pope. He actually rides in the saddle that once belonged to them. Born and raised in Kansas, the Waverly High School 8th grader is in his 2nd year of rodeo competition with the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Association and looks forward to a similar path for his future that has been set by his brothers before him. “My brother Jess always dreamed of being a bareback rider, and after he got into it, my brother Ty took his lead and started riding also. I rode saddle bronc and bareback steers in 6th grade, but this year I’m sticking with saddle bronc steer riding. Both of my brothers have helped me so much. I love how fun it is and like spurring and getting in time with the steers.”
Ty is an 18-year-old senior at Waverly High School and competes in the high school division of KHSRA. Sharing the rodeo experience with him is something Judd doesn’t take for granted, “My favorite part of competing is being behind the chutes with Ty. He helps me get on my steers and always supports me. I’ll miss having him there when he graduates.” After graduation, Ty will be moving on to Missouri Valley College, where the eldest Pope brother, Jess, is currently a junior on the college’s rodeo team. Judd looks forward to the day that he will also attend MVC and compete as a bronc rider on the team. The boys’ parents, Jennifer and Brett Pope couldn’t be more proud or supportive of their sons’ rodeo aspirations. Brett works as an automotive mechanic teacher in Garnett, Kansas and Jennifer works in the social security office in Kansas City, Missouri. With Missouri Valley College just two hours from their home in Garnett, Kansas, they are glad to have all their sons staying nearby when they move on to the college level, so the family can still share many of the rodeo experiences together.
In school, Judd enjoys his history and science classes and participates in sports. He has played basketball since he was in 4th grade and likes to play right wing or point guard. He played football last year, but this season is just focusing on basketball and track, other than his rodeo endeavors. Judd won saddle bronc steer riding at his first KJHSRA rodeo as a 6th grader and ultimately finished as the 4th place KJHSRA Saddle Bronc Steer Rider for the 2018 season, gaining him a national finals qualification. Although he didn’t have the luck that he hoped for at the national finals that summer in Huron, South Dakota; he is working hard to qualify for the national junior high finals that will be held in Des Moines, Iowa this coming June. His 7th grade season, he took a break to get stronger after two wrist injuries, one getting hung up on a steer, and the other after a football accident. Finishing out his junior high career, he has come back strong for his final year in the division.
Judd credits his brothers for most of his success in his rodeo competition, but also likes to watch professionals like those from the Wright family, which is also filled with successful cowboys sharing similar dreams and following down the paths of their kin. “I like to watch all the big rodeos on television like San Antonio, Fort Worth, the American, and the NFR. I watch the pros and how they get in time and spur in the air with them. I think it all helps me with my own riding.” Judd often gets the chance to practice with the rodeo team at Missouri Valley College and spends a lot of time practicing on his spur board at home; often with his Basset Hound puppy, Hank, looking on.
“I like being a part of the KJHSRA like my brothers were. I love getting to travel everywhere with the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Association, it’s fun to get to see new places and meet new people.”