Story by Heidi Geesen On a cold January day in 1994, The Colorado Junior Rodeo Association was birthed at the Old Stock Yards Bar in […]
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“So You’re Saying There’s a Chance”
Story by Dean Geesen
There isn’t a little boy or girl alive that picks up a rope or burns their little stick horse through the barrel pattern that doesn’t dream of doing it under the bright lights of the Thomas and Mack in Las Vegas. If we are being honest with each other, I’m 42 this year and I still dream of running one at the NFR. I always tell Cooper when we are running the last steer of the night, “Round 10 right here buddy!! This is for all the glory!” He just rolls his eyes and shakes his head at me. He has probably come the conclusion like anyone else that has seen my lack luster roping skills that if he does run one in December sometime, it won’t be with me on the backside for him. If we don’t have dreams and ambitions about what we are doing though, then it isn’t worth doing.
This brings me to the point of the story. Since the CJRA started in 1994, it has had 2207 members to the date of this article. You can’t tell me that out of those some 2200 members that not every single one of them hasn’t thought at least one time, “Here we go baby, round whatever of the NFR!”, while they are practicing. Although the CJRA has produced way too many CPRA, WRA, WPRA, PRCA Circuit, NIRA, and various other amateur associations’ qualifiers and champions to list, only 21 have hit the paydirt of the Thomas and Mack. If we want to be technical, I guess, some of them hit the Superbowl of rodeo in Globe Life Stadium in Arlington this past December, thank you COVID.
The CJRA also had a PBR World Champion as a member in Kody, Lostroh. Kody was crowned the 2009 PBR champ and qualified 10x for the World Finals. I’m sure like his rough stock NFR qualifying counterparts, Royce Ford, Jarrod Ford, and Josh Koschel, they were thrilled as little cowboys that their moms had them doing barrels, poles and flags. Maybe not though, in the early years, the CJRA did have steer riding and mutton bustin. Now the CJRA has moved on from its rough stock days and is pretty much the Colorado Junior Roping Association, no bucking stock around the clock going on here.
The CJRA has had very good success in getting some Team Ropers to the NFR. The first to do it were a pair of brothers from Pueblo, Jay and Ryon Tittle. Brock Hanson, Garrett Tonozzi, Ty Blasingame, Dakota Kirkenschlager, Tate Kirkenschlager, Shay Carroll, and 2018 WNFR heeling aggregate champion, Trey Yates also made trips in the team roping. While we are on that end of the arena, you have a 7x NFR qualifier and Timed Events Champion in Josh Peek. Ryan Watkins also made a trip to the Big Show in the calf roping and Kyle Hughes and Wade Sumpter did it down and dirty in the dirt in the steer wrestling at the Thomas and Mack.
The list would not be complete without the CJRA sending some pretty ladies and fast horses. Shali Lord (Nichols) would be the first to represent in 2005. She would be followed by Christine Laughlin and Ivy Conrado-Saebens to make their way down the ally as well. Then how bout a couple of ladies that have and are paving the way for lots of little breakaway ropers behind them. Jordan Jo Fabrizio, and Erin Johnson (Homm) made history together by qualifying for the first ever Wrangler National Finals Breakaway at Globe Life Stadium in December. Erin was not only among one of the first 15 woman to make history by qualifying, she made history by being the first woman to ever get to rope at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Erin and Jordan both also roped outstanding, making Colorado proud, by finishing in the top 8 in the aggregate after 10 head, and moving on into the shoot-out round of 8. Pretty awesome just to have two Colorado gals at the NFBR let alone have both of them finish in the top 8 and move on.
If you like numbers, here you go. There have been 2207 CJRA members to date. 21 NFR qualifiers and 1 PBR qualifier and World Champ. That means your chances of being a CJRA member and qualifying for the “Super Bowl of Rodeo” is 0.0099. “So, your saying there’s a chance?!?” Now that number is not totally accurate. Of the 2207 members there are quite a few “active” members that aren’t even old enough to buy their PRCA or WPRA cards. I for one cannot wait to see which one of these Big Dreamers is the next to add their name to the list of 22.