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Wisdom For the Next Generation of Rodeo: Rube Woolsey, Clay Cooper O’Brien and Brock Hanson

Clay Cooper O’Brien (aka the Champ)

For all you rodeo junkies out there who are needing that little bit of cowboy wisdom from a pro. Look no further, this past week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Rube Woolsey, Clay Cooper O’Brien and Brock Hanson. All of whom are past and present pro rodeo competitors, I was able to ask them a few questions based on what they would say to their younger selves, as well as what advice they would give to this upcoming generation of rodeo athletes.

Rube Woolsey

Rube Woolsey

Rube Woolsey, was born and raised in Dewey, Arizona where he started his career as a young athlete going to all the high school/college rodeos. When he turned 18 he was eligible for his PRCA permit and decided to hit the rodeo trail. Only 5 years into his career he qualified for the NFR (1992,93,95 & 97) as well as receiving one of his biggest wins as the 1995 BFI Champion and winning the 1993 GSTRC with Kory Koontz. Now Woolsey is currently a team roping instructor and owner of the Walking N Arena in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Clay Cooper O’Brien (aka the Champ) was raised in California until the age of 16. A few years later he got his PRCA card and became one of the best team ropers of all time! O’Brien went on to win the American, as said in the interview that it was one of his greatest wins. He is currently still on the rodeo road and enjoying his time with his family.

Brock Hanson

Brock Hanson

Brock Hanson, born and raised in Montrose, Colorado; received his PRCA permit when he was 18 years old and never looked back. At the age of 27, he qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, heading for Ryan Motes and was able to win the first round. Hanson mentions that winning the first round was a very comforting feeling knowing that he at least had one big win under his belt. Besides making it to his first NFR, another one of his most prized accomplishments was tying the world record with a 3.3 at one of the Pro Rodeos. He is currently still on the rodeo rode with his family, hoping to qualify for another year at the Wrangler NFR but this time as a heeler.

After gaining a little insight about each competitor I jumped right into asking them a series of questions relating to their careers and advice they would give to the younger ages. One of the questions asked was in relation to giving advice to their younger selves. Woolsey’s response was “ to buy more horses”. Although it was a very good response, Hanson’s was more realistic to the younger ages. He says to get an education and make school a priority, rodeo will always be there. But in the long run, you should get an education you can fall back on.

What advice or piece of wisdom would you give to the future generation of rodeo athletes? O’Brien says that he would tell them to work hard and keep things in perspective, try to stay grounded in what important such as family and friends. Woolsey advice on this question was spot on “Gotta learn how to save your money when you’re winning for the times your not.” I think anyone who has ever entered any rodeo or jackpot can relate to this answer. Rodeo is an easy way to make a hard living. Check out the video below on how Brock prepares for a roping or a rodeo. 

Although the questions I asked were the same, each answer was unique in its own way. All three gentleman had a different story for every question but they were all linked back to one main thing and that was their love for the sport of rodeo.

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Sarah Serrano-Smith is a native Arizonan, who comes from a competitive rodeo family. She is planning to graduate with her degree in Agriculture Business and a minor in Journalism. In her free-time she enjoys competing at rodeos and jackpots.

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