What’s more impressive than a breakaway roper making big moves in the rodeo industry? A breakaway roper that is only 17 years old! I was thrilled to hop on the phone with Josie Conner, who is currently sitting number one on the WCRA leaderboard, to get the inside scoop on her views on the WCRA and rodeo as a whole. Hope you enjoy!
CLN: Can you tell our audience a little about yourself? (Background, your history with rodeo, breakaway roping etc.)
Josie: I’m 17 years old, a senior in high school, and second-generation roper, my dad was a professional tie-down roper, my mom was the all-around in Lousiana for various years in high school. I’ve been around it my entire life, I love it, I love it a lot. I love roping and everything about it.
CLN: How did you initially become involved in breakaway? Why was that the direction you wanted to go
Josie: My parents rodeoed, my dad trained horses, and put on roping clinics and jackpots. I literally grew up in the arena or outside with horses my entire life. And just being with it and doing that every day, I fell in love with roping. I love to do it, I really do. Some people have other reasons for doing but that’s how I got into it and I really hope to stay roping and continue doing it my entire life.
CLN: Can you describe your experience and involvement with the WCRA up to this point.
Josie: The first WCRA I ever went to was in 2019 at Salt Lake City, then I was a 15 year old girl, who got to rope at a packed performance, with cameras, everything and performing next to some of the best in rodeo. The WCRA has done a good job in giving breakaway ropers that opportunity and I love that they are about that. They really are the best thing that’s happened to the sport of breakaway roping.
CLN: Why do you aspire to get that number one spot on the WCRA leaderboard?
Josie: Well, in the Corpus Christi event, the number one gets fed right into the 12/5 round or the big money round, which is what we like to call it. I treat roping as a business and from a business standpoint, it makes the most sense to try to get a guaranteed spot for the big money. That’s why I try to nominate as much as possible to get into that number one spot.’
CLN: What accomplishment are you the proudest of to date?
Josie: So back in October, I won Oklahoma’s Richest and the San Angelo Roping Fiesta on back-to-back weekends. I think I’m most proud of that because, in Oklahoma, the event was in a little building with a short-score barrier so you could go pretty fast but in San Angelo, it was in a big outdoor arena with a 16ft hand pull barrier.
They were just two completely different setups, at both ropings, the top breakaway ropers and athletes were there so that was pretty cool, and I probably the proudest of that.
CLN: What is like roping with some of the big time ropers?
Josie: My parents actually threw me to the wolves when I was really young, I started going to the Amateur association events when I was 10 years old. It taught me how to win and how to lose. After all the experiences I’ve had, I can’t treat them any differently. Gratefully, I’m close with a lot of the top breakaway ropers, but when I go into the arena to make my run, I can’t think about them or anything else. Obviously, I just need to do my thing and focus on my run, and hope that it works.
CLN: What is the best advice you can give aspiring roper?
Josie: You have to work hard. Anything you do in life, you have to put in the time and the effort because nothing is easy and nothing worth having is easy. So anything in life, you just have to work harder than everyone else.
CLN: How has WCRA changed the game for women ropers?
Josie: In my opinion, I think the WCRA drives the breakaway economy. And what I mean by that is, first off, it gives the ladies a chance to rope for big money or equal money at the major events. Equally as important, it increases the entries at jackpots and rodeos because the people are nominating and going to those rodeos to try and qualify for the major but also still winning money.
CLN: Do you have any closing thoughts around rodeo or roping that you’d like our audience to know?
Josie: Rodeo is not as much as a sport as it is a way of life. It’s such a different way of life compared to everything else; the process that goes into it, all the hard work and all the behind the scenes things that not a lot of people know and I just love the life that I get to live.
CLN: Where do you hope to be 5 or 10 years in rodeo?
Josie: Right now, if you look at this year, a breakaway roper could make more money going to the jackpots, and the rodeos and trying to make it to the WCRA majors than they can at the NFR and I think this is a little because of Covid, there aren’t as many rodeos and the fact that breakaway isn’t in all the pro rodeos. I really hope that breakaway gets to be in all the pro rodeos and I really just hope that as a sport it grows and I just want to grow with it.
Josie Conner’s personal nomination strategy for the WCRA:
For me, I like to nominate aggregate or average ropings and rodeos. At those, you have an opportunity to rope more than one calf, it isn’t just one calf. So if you mess up on one calf, you have more than one opportunity to make money. That’s my main strategy.
A huge thanks to Josie and the WCRA for getting this interview set up. I personally can’t wait to look at this interview five years from now and see where this cowgirl has landed. It’s a cool experience to chat with these young athletes because it’s almost like you’re catching them at the ground level. From myself and the rest of the team at Cowboy Lifestyle Network, we wish you all the best as you head to Corpus Christi!
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