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On The Trail with Cole Futrell
Written by: Michele Toberer< Back to Articles
Rodeo roots run deep for young North Carolina cowboy, Cole Futrell. The Kidd, Tucker, and Futrell families have had an influence on the sport in the southeast. Cole, a first-year, youth IPRA member, is 16-years-old, and was born in Charlotte, North Carolina where his start in life was on his family’s legendary Rockin’ K Ranch. There aren’t many cowboys or cowgirls of any caliber in North Carolina, that don’t have a story to tell about their rodeo days there at the Rockin’ K, where Cole lived until he moved to their farm in Union Grove when he was in first grade. Cole’s great-grandparents, Helen and C.W. Kidd started the Rockin’ K Arena and were instrumental to the beginnings of the Southern Rodeo Association, and rodeo in North Carolina.
Cole’s Papaw, Scott Tucker (BWTB on page 22)is an SRA All-Around Champion Cowboy, that won the title multiple times in the 1960’s and 1970’s and had a big influence on Cole’s interest in rodeo. “I love listening to all of his old rodeo stories, especially his bull riding stories, and I want to be able to tell those kinds of stories one day too.” Cole’s late-Nana, Vicki Kidd Tucker, was quite the cowgirl, winning many titles during her rodeo days. Scott and Vicki raised their two children on the Rockin’ K; Cole’s mom, Keri Tucker Futrell, and his uncle, Jason Tucker. Jason competed as a team roper on the pro-level for several years and is an IPRA World Champion team roper. “My Uncle Jason has always helped me at rodeos to know what the start is and gives me advice on what I can improve on as a header.”
Cole is the youngest of Keri and Bart Futrell’s four children; his older siblings are Matt, 29, Paige, 27, and Clay, 19. Keri is a timer at many IPRA and SRA rodeos and has been a supportive rodeo mom to all her children. Cole appreciates that she hauls him anywhere he needs to go, watching most of his runs through the video lens, so that he can watch them later. Bart competed as a bull rider for several years and is a past IFR qualifier. He now owns Bow F Bucking Bulls and is a well-respected IPRA stock contractor and rodeo producer with his partner, Chet Kidd, (Keri’s cousin) as Rafter 3 Rodeo Company. Cole often helps his dad feed and care for bulls, as well as sorting stock and running them through the chutes before events to prepare them for the rodeo. “My dad has always told me to never give up no matter what anyone tells me. He is a hard worker, and I’ve learned from him that if I want something to never give up on it. If my dad puts his mind to something, he’s going to get it done.” Matt has also been an IFR qualifier, and still competes in many IPRA and SRA rodeos, as well as training horses and helping with the family stock contracting business. “When Matt is home, he’s always willing to pull the sled for me and is there to help me anyway he can.” Cole’s sister Paige is a NCHSRA alumni and went on to college rodeo in Texas; she is now a beautician and co-owner of the online boutique, Madeleine Paige. Paige is engaged to PRCA bull rider, Eli Vastbinder, who is currently in the top 15 in the world standings. “I really appreciate all of the help Eli gives me on my mental game; he has always been very motivational and positive.”
Clay, an IPRA heeler and IFR qualifier; and has been instrumental in Cole’s team roping. Cole watched Clay rope for a few years, while he stayed busy competing in steer riding, ribbon roping, and breakaway roping through junior high. Once Cole started heading, he and Clay spent nearly every day in the practice pen, roping the sled and steers together. Cole has been to several IFYR rodeos to watch Clay compete and last year was Cole’s first year to compete in Shawnee. Clay graduated in 2017, and is currently living in Stephenville, Texas. Cole’s favorite roping win was when he and Clay won the 12 Preliminary roping at the 2017 NTRL Finals in Jacksonville, Florida.
Besides the many family members, including cousins Cory and Tyler Kidd, that have been down the IPRA and IFR roads before him, Cole credits team roper, Bronc Fanning for much of his success as a header. Bronc competed at his first IFR in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1971, and spent many years competing as a team roper. Bronc started working with Cole about five years ago, after Cole had told his dad he wasn’t ever going to rope, because he just wanted to ride bulls. “His dad called me that day, to see if I’d start working with him. I just started spending time teaching him how to do tricks on the dummy that his brother and cousins couldn’t do, and once he started beating them on the dummy, he got interested in roping steers. I don’t think I’ve ever been around such a kind and big-hearted kid, that has been so dedicated or works as hard at his roping.”
Cole, a homeschooled sophomore, team ropes at rodeos as well as USTRC jackpots. He just finished his second year competing in the NCHSRA, with roping partner, Blake Walker; finishing the season as the Reserve Champion Header. The two are anxious to compete at the 2018 IFYR and high school national finals. Since 7th grade, Cole has headed on a 15-year-old grey gelding he calls Bam Bam, “I like riding him because he is so honest, he never gets too strong and lets me handle the steers however I want.”
Cole was chosen to be on the Smarty Young Pro Team and has been blessed by the experience. The help he has received from Smarty Pro members, like Kaleb Driggers and family friend, Luke Brown have been invaluable to him. Last March, the Smarty Young Pro Team gathering at Allen Bach’s Smarty training facility in Texas, was a life-changing experience that not only gave him the opportunity to learn from many of the pro team members involved, but also strengthened his walk with the Lord. Trey Johnson leads the ministry and motivational team meetings, and Cole has learned lessons from him about being a winner inside as well as outside the arena. “Trey has really helped to bring me closer to God.”
With such strong family connections to rodeo, it is not much of a surprise that Cole is also traveling down the rodeo road. Like a rite of passage, it’s now his turn to compete at these events he has spent his life watching. His plans, goals and dreams for his future include moving to Stephenville, Texas and competing in college rodeo before starting a career as a roper; with the ultimate dream of one day, heading steers for his brother Clay at the WNFR. “It’s all I want to do – it’s all I think about and what drives me.”