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Meet the Member The Tupper Family
story by Lily Weinacht
The Tupper family – Justin and Brooke and their four children, Emily (21), Maggie (21), Taylor (18), and Cody (17) – make their home in what they lovingly call “God’s Country”, in the Black Hills of South Dakota near St. Onge. The rodeo arena and school gymnasium are their second home, however, as Taylor and Cody, both SDHSRA competitors, pursue the sports that define their lives – rodeo and wrestling.
Justin Tupper, a retired PRCA and IPRA saddle bronc rider, is one of the brothers’ main inspirations as they rodeo. Today, Justin serves on the Black Hills Roundup Rodeo Committee and runs the St. Onge Sale Barn, following in his own father’s bootprints, who owned a sale barn in Kimball, S.D., when Justin was growing up. Brooke, who met Justin when she was working on her uncle’s feedlot in Kimball, is the office manager of the St. Onge Sale Barn. Unlike her husband and sons, she has never competed in rodeo, but has been a lifelong fan of the sport. “I grew up in Colorado going to the National Western Stock Show, so when Taylor and Cody wanted to rodeo, it seemed the natural progression of things,” says Brooke.
Taylor, who was the 2014 SDHSRA Saddle Bronc Riding Champion, is making the most of his last season with the association. Although he also team ropes and wrestles steers, saddle bronc riding is his preferred event. He practiced with the Gillette College rodeo team through the winter, coached by Will LaDuke. Since graduating from Belle Fourche High School in May, he is attending Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell on a rodeo scholarship. “My main goal is to have a fairly decent first year of college rodeo,” says Taylor, whose next greatest goal is qualifying for the CNFR. He’s using his remaining weeks of summer break to compete in SDRA and high school rodeos, as well as help in the family’s sale barn.
Cody, who balances both rodeo and wrestling, spent 12 days in June and July travelling to wrestling meets in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, through a program called Down Under Sports. “I’ve wrestled ever since I could walk, and my parents have been very supportive, as well as my coaches, Bill Able, and Joshua Schleicher,” says Cody. “But I also love the sport of rodeo. I’m going to keep it up and not quit – it’s always been very good to me.” Cody competes in the SDHSRA in tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and saddle bronc riding, but like his brother, he prefers roughstock. Family friend and PRCA saddle bronc rider Troy Crowser is a role model to both Cody and Taylor. “It’s fun to see him as a role model and example to the boys as they work down that rodeo path,” says Justin. Cody will be a senior at Belle Fourche High School this fall, and following graduation, he is considering attending a tech school for carpentry. “I’ve also been looked at by Dickinson State University for their wrestling program,” Cody adds.
From season to season, the Tuppers are together, whether rodeoing, branding, or school sports. And though the distance between them will widen as Taylor and Cody go to college, the lessons of rodeo and wrestling will not change. “The way we see it, rodeo and wrestling hold unbelievable attributes for kids of all ages, teaching life lessons about winning and losing and handling the day to day rigors of life,” says Justin. “Those sports really teach those skills, and as the boys get older, they are ready with those skills to go try new things in their lives.”