story by Lindsay Humphrey A graduate of a school known for its rodeo team – Oklahoma Panhandle State University – Austin Hawkins didn’t compete until […]
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Meet the Member Ty Pope
story by Michele Toberer
A roughie at heart, 17-year-old, Kansas Professional Rodeo Association member, Ty Pope, started out riding sheep when he was just 4 years old, but has progressed up the ranks through calves, steers, and bulls, and is now making his name as a bareback rider. He and his older brother, Jesse Pope, 21, went down the road to George Steinberger’s ranch when Ty was 6 years old, and attended a bull riding school. “We really liked riding and just kept at it after that. Although his parents, Brett and Jennifer Pope didn’t have much rodeo background, other than Jennifer competing as a barrel racer, their sons found a passion for bucking livestock that couldn’t be ignored. Brett works as a high school automotive class teacher in Garnett, Kansas, and Jennifer works in Kansas City for the government.
Ty’s brother Jesse went on from riding bulls to become a bareback rider, and competed on the professional level, staying high in the standings for the rookie bareback rider of the year in the PRCA last season before a torn hamstring pulled him out of the race. Jesse attends college at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, and had been trying to encourage Ty to get on bareback horses for quite some time before Ty stepped on one at a bareback riding school Jesse was an instructing at the college. “My brother always pushed me to do it, and when I finally did, I liked it so much I stopped riding bulls and just ride bareback horses now. It’s two different sports, so it was like starting all over again getting on the bareback horses, but I picked it up pretty quickly and I had a lot of really good help.” Ty travels over to Missouri Valley College to practice with the college rodeo team often and appreciates the help that his brother and his fellow teammate, Tim O’Connell, give him when they practice. He is also grateful to the coach at MVC, Ken Mason, who has made a big impact on his riding as well. “I started out being pretty consistent and won the 2019 Kansas High School Rodeo Association Champion Bareback title and competed at the national high school finals last year.”
Ty started out in the KPRA last year and enjoyed a fantastic rookie season, winning the rookie of the year title and second in bareback riding for the 2019 season. “Competing in the KPRA has been great. It was a big step up from high school rodeo, traveling more on my own without my parents, and competing with older guys. But it was a really good experience and I got to get on a lot of good horses and won quite a bit of money. There is definitely a better opportunity to make more money as a bareback rider than as a bull rider at the rodeos.”
Ty is finishing his senior year at Waverly High School, where he plays tight-end and defensive-end for the Waverly Bulldogs football team. He looks forward to graduating so that he can continue competing in rodeo with the KPRA and also the collegiate level as he attends college. He likes to watch professional bareback rider, Orin Larsen, “He is on the tall side like I am, and I really like to watch the way he rides.” For now, Ty stays busy with school and rodeo and works at the livestock sale barn in Emporia, Kansas. He also looks after cattle for local ranchers when needed and helps his brother take care of the cattle he and a friend own.
“I am really glad to be able to rodeo and live the life I do and try to follow some good advice I was given ‘Keep going at what you want to do.’ I look forward to continuing to grow in the sport of rodeo and appreciate the opportunities I’ve had in the KPRA this season.”