This issue is special in that it starts our 50th year as a publication dedicated to team roping, barrel racing and rodeo. It has been an interesting 49 years leading up to this issue and I hope you readers enjoy some of our reminiscing of days gone by.
I can’t begin to thank all of the people who have made all of this happen over the years, but will try to start by thanking my late mom for loaning me $300 to pursue my wild dream of a team roping publication.
The Galt Herald newspaper in Galt, Calif., was headed up by Roy Herburger in the early days, and Roy would laugh each month as I would bring him my makeshift ads and stories to be laid out in the proper newspaper form. The late Arlene MacKerracher would help me proofread the paper in those days with the (sometimes unwanted) help of her one-of-a kind husband, the late Buzz MacKerracher.
Many of my stories or ads were written on a restaurant or cocktail napkin, which seemed to be my stationery in those days. There were no computers in those days with spellcheck. I later advanced to spiral notepads and legal pads.
As I look back to the first issue and read my original “letter of intent of the paper,” I am somewhat proud that we have fulfilled some of my visions.
I was no different than any other team roper in that I just knew that I would soon have a big win that would make everything all right. I believed that the next roping would be the one I would win and be able to get caught up on my bills.
My good friend, Jack Parnell of the California Cattlemens Magazine helped me along the way as he and his wife, Susan had been putting out their publication for some time and gave me some good advice.
Chuck King of Western Horseman was also very kind to me and felt that the idea of a team roping paper was good and would serve a void in the industry.
Louie Tavaglione of the Riverside Rancheros, along with Dr. Lane Falk who was a physician in the Modesto, Calif. area, also gave me a lot of support with the first issue. The first issue is included in this RSN and as you can see, advertisements were not of abundance but some people liked the idea and took a chance on that first issue (see page 31). Chuck Biglow, grandfather of WNFR bareback rider Clayton Biglow, also liked the idea as he had a commercial roping arena in Central California.
One of the top headers today, Spencer Mitchell, was raised on the ranch that was the home of the Hobby Horse Arena and they were also a big supporter of the first issue. Bill Duncan of Southern California liked the idea, as did Dr. John Britton of Oakdale, Calif. The Semas Ranch Arena in Auburn, Calif. came on board along with many other commercial arenas.
In the early years of this publication, team roping was not as popular in other states as it was here in California. In the earlier days, the team roping roster at the NFR was primarily California, Arizona and New Mexico cowboys. There were hardly any team ropings in Texas and Oklahoma. Also in the early days, there was only one team roping champion. The roper who won the most money won the world.
When I first started the paper I would keep coming up with other means of revenue to help pay the bills when my roping wasn’t going so good. I would sell Ropers Sports News caps, sweatshirts, rope bags, timer sheets and other items to keep things afloat. I even learned how to develop my own film and would sell photos at the ropings or announce some to help pay the entry fees. I really have to laugh at all of the things I did to make it work. It was all fun and I remember Gary Gist was just starting out in the buckle business about the same time and we would have many chats as to how and where team roping was going.
As the years went by, the paper grew and it was time to bring on additional help. Stephanie Reynolds Anderson was hired right out of college and has been the mainstay of the paper to this day. She roped in the early years and could be seen at many of the ropings competing and representing the paper. This allowed me to go to some other states with EV Dorsey, who introduced me to the ropings in Colorado and states in between. EV knew his way around and could heel his share by two feet.
I hired Butch Morgan to represent us in Colorado in the early years before he was ever with Western Horseman.
As time went on, Stephanie became a household name in the roping industry and was the go-to gal to find out how and when to schedule a roping. Over the years, she had the help of my mother, Alberta Feist, Arlene MacKerracher, Mary Mitchell Robertson, Mary Stephenson Minor, Rayanne Engel Currin, Shirl Woodson, Teresa “Gator” Vandepol, Julie Sell, Taryn and Erica Krantz, and Jenny Vasquez. These women have kept the paper going over the years and I am much appreciative of their contributions. Kendra Santos started writing for us when she was still in college and continues to do so today. I was proud to give her a first assignment that she handled very well.
In the old days of Ropers I used to have a column called Rona Barrier from Dallywood USA. It was a take-off of Rona Barrett from Hollywood which was a gossip column about all of the stars in Hollywood. In those days there was no Facebook or other social media, so I would write about partner splits and other gossip in the roping world. It could be considered good or sometimes bad to get mentioned in the Rona column. It was fun and sometimes the first-read article in the newspaper and had quite a following. I quit doing the article when I quit competing full time and wasn’t around the everyday pros to know the real truth about the gossip.
It has been fun and when we started we were the only roping publication – as time went on, many more have come and gone and they have all contributed to the growth of team roping.
Over this next year I hope to bring back some memories of some of the main ropings that took place in the early days. Many of these ropings don’t exist anymore, but at one time were the mainstay of the roping world.
It is nice to be celebrating our 50th year along with the Rolling Stone publication. I will never forget Brian Burrows singing the words, “I’m gonna get my picture on the cover of the Ropers Sports News,” and he did on more than one occasion with creditable wins.
Again, many thanks to all of the people who have made this publication what it is today. A special thanks to all of the loyal subscribers over the years and if you are one of those who have taken the paper for many years or even one of the original subscribers, let us here from you by sending us an email or letter to the editor about your early days with Ropers Sports News.
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Congratulations to Dru Stewart on his purchase of the great Wildfire event previously owned and produced by Billy Pipes. Great plans are in the works for the 20th annual to be held in Hamilton, TX, Feb. 1-4, 2018. See ad on page 61 for details.
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Good luck goes out to all of the ropers headed to the NFR in Vegas and all of the other ropings that go along with it.. The South Point Equestrian Center will once again host many events during the two weeks of the Wrangler National Finals including an awards ceremony following each performance.
This year there are some great pairings in the top 15 in the team roping and it should be good watching (see below). The AA race is looking like a good one as are many of the other events. With the money up for grabs, it could change a lot of things by the end of the week.
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Be sure to attend all of the Christmas shows and support those that have supported roping all year. Many friends of the roping and rodeo world will have booths at the different shows, so plan on doing your Christmas shopping in Vegas.
Special thanks to Jimmy Pfeffer of Ropes Galore who will be located at the Sands, and JR and Lynn Cordova of Steer Gear, headquartered at South Point, for allowing us to give you a chance to pick up this special edition of RSN.
Safe travels and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.