Cole Compton, a homeschooled rising junior and member of the North Carolina High School Rodeo Association (NCHSRA), is preparing to compete in Nationals in Wyoming. He is holding a chicken leg meal and pork shoulder fundraiser to raise funds to be able to drive the 1,800 miles to get there.
Cole’s mother, Shannon Compton, said the NCHSRA is just like any other sport.
“They have to maintain a certain grade point average, and they have to be well rounded just like in any other sport,” she shared.
Though Cole and his family have had horses for many years, it wasn’t until August 2013 that he took an interest in the rodeo and team roping.
“I was introduced to it by Dr. Arthur Taylor, the former owner of Oak Ridge Village Vet. He’s a roper,” Cole shared, noting that they often refer to Taylor as “Doc.”
Shannon mentioned that Cole has progressed very fast in the sport.
“He’s a natural,” she remarked. “It usually takes a long time to get to where he is.”
In 2014, Cole participated in the National competition in Wyoming, driving 39 hours with two horses to get there.
After placing in the State finals, Cole and his partner, Zach Toberer, will once again be competing.
“Every year, the kids have 20 rodeos and they get points at each rodeo depending on how they place in team roping,” Shannon explained. “They have to earn enough points to get to Finals. Finals was a three-day rodeo held over Memorial Day weekend. NCHSRA adds the points from Finals and the previous 20 rodeos throughout the year. The top four teams go to Nationals and compete against rodeo teams from all 50 states, Canada and Australia.”
Shannon said she was surprised there were teams from Hawaii and Alaska, and was very impressed by the Hawaiian team during last years’ National competition.
Cole noted that he and his partner came in second overall during the State Finals.
Along with team roping, several other events in rodeo include barrel racing, goat tying, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping and more.
Cole shared that all rodeo events come from out West.
“Team roping came from when a team of cowboys would go out and rope a steer to give it medical care,” he said.
He added that during a rodeo, each team draws a different steer so that steer is only used once during the event.
Cole explained how team roping works.
“You have a head box, a heel box and a timed barrier (attached to the steer). When the steer is released out into the arena he is given a head start. Then I ride my horse out. Sometimes it’s hard to hold the horses back because they know their job and they get excited, but we can’t leave before the barrier is broken,” he said. “The heeler can run out into the arena with the steer to haze (keeping him off the wall).”
“When the header catches the steer (with the rope), the steer turns left and depending on how well the header handles the steer, the heeler has to rope both back feet; otherwise, it’s a penalty. It has to be the back two feet. If we both miss, the steer can run through the areas to the exit gate.”
Cole added that the header and heeler have a total of 40 seconds to rope the steer.
“The fastest time I’ve ever seen (Cole) rope a steer was six seconds, but he averages a seven second run,” Shannon shared.
Shannon said there is more at stake than just having a good time during Nationals.
“It’s important for him to be able to go to Nationals because, just like any other sport, there will be scouts there looking to recruit team members to their college,” she said. “There are many schools out West that have their own rodeos.”
Cole and Shannon will be selling precooked chicken leg quarter meals and whole pork shoulders on June 27.
“This is just in time for those Fourth of July celebrations,” Shannon remarked.
They also have a GoFundMe account. To make a donation to the account, visit Gofund.me/x2j2av2w. If interested in purchasing a precooked chicken leg quarter meal or whole pork shoulders, send an email to Shannon at email@example.com.