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Meet the Member Matt Cumbie
story by Lily Weinacht
“I’ve always just loved it,” says team roper Matt Cumbie. “It’s challenging for me and it’s something that I look forward to every day. It relieves stress and gives me something to work at all the time, because I’ll never be good enough for me.” His efforts have put him fourth in the RMPRA heeler standings, however, while the 37-year-old from Tremonton, Utah, also competes on the PRCA Wilderness Circuit.
He started roping when he was 12, following after his dad and older brother in the sport. Matt grew up in the team roping capital of the world in Wickenburg, Arizona, heading and went to the NHSFR twice in the team roping. He then switched to heeling while college rodeoing for Cochise Community College in Arizona, and qualified twice for the CNFR. An all-around timed event cowboy through college, Matt also steer wrestled and tie-down roped, but focused solely on team roping after that.
“There was a guy named Vern Goodman who was very influential when I was a younger kid and kind of took me under his wing,” says Matt. “I met him in Arizona when I was about 15, and every winter he would come back and we would rope together. About four years later when I graduated from high school, he asked if I would come up to Utah and work for him in the summer. I met my wife, Traci, and we started a family.”
As a family man at 21, Matt didn’t want to rodeo too far from home. He joined the Wilderness Circuit, having previously competed on the Turquoise Circuit, and he’s qualified for both circuit finals over the years. Team roping header Thad Ward competes with Matt in all of the pro rodeos, as well as the RMPRA. “I’ve competed with the RMPRA on and off for the last six or seven years and gone to the finals,” says Matt. “I like that they’re enter twice rodeos, and they’re a great affordable rodeo to go to. I can season horses at them and rope with more than one guy, and have a little fun there. The Ogden Winter Series is only 20 minutes from the house, and in the summer while we’re going to pro rodeos, we can hit some RM rodeos along the way.” His work as the general manager of an industrial cleaning company also requires some traveling, but gives him flexibility to rodeo as well. “I have an outstanding group of guys and they take good care of me.”
Until recently, Matt roped off a sorrel gelding named Chile, but after his kids took Chile over as a calf horse, he started heeling off a former reining horse named Pendleton. “He knew very little team roping, and I just picked him up a year ago and he’s already good. I’ve never been one to buy made roping horses.” Matt’s four sons, Keegan (14), Logan (13), Brannam (12), and Kasen (4), all love to ride, and the oldest three are rodeoing. Keegan junior high rodeos for Utah and qualified for the 2019 NJHFR in tie-down roping, ribbon roping, and team roping. “I’ll have to sit out of about three or four rodeos while we’re gone for Nationals, but my main priority is being a dad right now,” says Matt. “There’s no price I wouldn’t pay to keep my family going in it. They just love it that much. It teaches my boys responsibility, and how to work hard and set goals.”
One of Matt’s personal rodeo goals is to maintain his rank as a #9 heeler. “But more importantly, I want to keep my kids going, and help them achieve their goals and provide good horses for them.”