Roper Review: Coy Upchurch
Written by: Teri Edwards< Back to Articles
Growing up in the small Texas town of Itasca, Coy started riding and roping when he and his dad would help out on a local ranch. It wasn’t until high school that he truly caught the roping bug that would lead him to attend schools taught by roping legends like Dee Pickett and Mike Beers. In high school, he competed in both North Texas High School Rodeo Association and Texas High School Rodeo Association. Afterwards, Coy attended and graduated from Tarleton University, Stephenville, Texas, with a degree in Criminal Justice.
“One of the guys who taught me to rope worked in a rope shop. He also taught me how to take care of my ropes and when to change lays due to weather conditions. That was Bill Shrum, who works at Fast Back today. Bill has been in this industry for over forty years.”
Working full time, Coy and his brother, Kerry, went to pro rodeos on the weekends trying to fill their permits. It didn’t take long, however, for them to realize the pitfalls of competing against professional ropers.
“We both worked full time and practiced when we could,” explains Coy. “We were competing against guys who roped full time. I didn’t enjoy traveling and I didn’t like getting beat by guys who did it for a living.”
Coy spent ten years (’98 to ’08) working for Professional’s Choice when they produced ropes. While there, he performed every job in the shop: riding rope machines, tying eyes, and rolling ropes – basically every job with the exception of waxing. He also worked sales and trade shows and is grateful for the experience.
When the oil field business boomed in north Texas, Coy accepted a position as a sales rep for a company that sold drill bits.
“There is a general misconception about the oil field business where people tend to think the companies don’t care about the environment and waste a lot of money. That was not my experience at all. I met a lot of smart businessmen and developed great relationships that I still value today. But the western industry is what I truly enjoy.”
During an oil field layoff in ‘09, Upchurch briefly tied ropes at Fast Back. He was impressed by the friendly atmosphere and never forgot it. Leaving the oil field again in 2015, Upchurch joined Fast Back Ropes as a Sales Manager. When the General Manager retired in 2016, he was offered that position.
“I had never really ‘managed’ people before,” explains Coy. “So I read a lot and picked the brains of people I admired and respected. What I learned is that it’s important to find the best people you can, then get out of their way and let them do their job.
“I’ve always loved Fast Back ropes. I started using them in ‘95 and have ever since, except for my time at Professionals Choice. I always felt they were the best feeling and longest lasting ropes on the market. I’ve always liked the people at Fast Back, many of whom have been in this industry for years and years. We have an incredible team. They are innovative and passionate about building the best ropes possible. This is, without a doubt, the best job I’ve ever had.”
How much do you practice?
Several times a week.
Do you make your own horses?
Right now I’m riding a young horse that had been started on the machine. I used to enjoy riding young horses, but now it’s more enjoyable to get a horse you can go rope on. There is satisfaction in making one.
Who were your roping heroes?
Tee Woolman, Jake Barnes, Clay O’Brien Cooper, Dee Picket, the Camarillos.
Who do you respect most in the world?
Jesus Christ and Clay O’Brien Cooper.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
If you had a day off what would you like to do?
Ride horses with my daughter.
What’s the last thing you read?
The Inner Game of Tennis.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Honest, hardworking, fair.
What makes you happy?
Spending time with my daughter.
What makes you angry?
People who are rude or mean to others.
If you were given 1 million dollars, how would you spend it?
I’d given a portion to charity; take a trip with my daughter, and save the rest.
What is your best quality – your worst?
I think my best quality is the willingness to try new things and think outside the box. My worst quality is reacting too quickly sometimes.