story by Lindsay Humphrey Quite literally born into rodeo, Brinklee Blanton arrived during her dad’s final college rodeo. “My mom (Kelsie) was already at the […]
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Meet the Member Tripp Lee
story by Lindsay King
Jaw clenched, rope taut, chin down: the only thing on Tripp Lee’s mind at this point in the game is a swift curl in the tip of his calf loop. This breakaway roper is quietly climbing the stairs of success in his final year in the OKJHSRA. Hailing from Gotebo, Oklahoma, this 13-year-old eats, sleeps and breathes roping. It’s always been that way. “I have ridden horses my entire life and then my dad taught me how to rope. We would rope the dummy every single day and that translated to horses and then I started rodeoing,” Tripp said. He was 11 years old when rodeo rose to the top of his priority list.
Prior to Tripp entering the roping, his 20-year-old brother, Sterling, paved the way as a bull dogger. Their parents–Shannon Lee and Gena Ward–gifted the boys with their love for rodeo by way of genetics and environment. “My dad has helped me a lot, he taught me how to keep going and how to win.” Shannon influenced Tripp to pursue heading in addition to roping calves in breakaway, tie-down and ribbon roping. “He never lets me quit; he always wants me to do my best.” After one year of rodeo it was time to step up the horse power. A year later and it was time yet again. Tripp said this was the catalyst for his current hot streak.
A 20-year-old gelding Tripp calls PJ is replacing Mama, a 22-year-old mare. “This horse is a lot faster than my mare, which has taken me to the next level and that is why I started winning. I still use my mare as a practice horse.” A neighbor, Mack Ford, has also contributed to Tripp’s newfound success as a calf roper. “I got my horse PJ from Mack. Right now he’s teaching me how to get out there and get a good shot every single time.” It was just last spring that Tripp got his first taste of sweet, high-level success. He walked away from a Northwest Junior Rodeo event with the tie-down roping saddle. “I’ve been on a hot streak these last few rodeos; it gets addicting fast when it’s like that.”
Despite his success, Tripp keeps himself firmly planted on the ground as he continues roping the dummy multiple times a day. Perfecting his technique starts out of the saddle, that’s something Tripp’s dad taught him. “You just have to keep practicing and you can never think you’re too good to practice. And keep roping the dummy.” In every aspect of rodeo Tripp aspires to emulate his role model: Trevor Brazile. Everything from his competitive spirit in the arena to the way he treats his horses, Tripp can’t think of a better person to look up to. It helps that Trevor and Tripp share an interest when it comes to their events.
Of course rodeo wouldn’t be the same without the friends criss-crossed the state of Oklahoma. “I like going to junior high rodeos best because that is where most of my friends are and the competition is really high there which makes me work harder for it.” Even though the Lee family has an arena and a herd of steers to rope, Tripp can often be found roping at a neighbor’s house with his rodeo buddies. “Every time I go to a rodeo I make more friends. That’s my favorite part of rodeo. I practice with a lot of them and every time I do they help my roping get better.” With friends like that, what more could a young cowboy pursuing a professional career in the saddle really need? Tripp is looking forward to being a college rodeo athlete just like his brother.