Live from Decatur, Texas
Cowboys & Indians: Clint, you and your brothers are carrying on the family tradition of competing — and winning — at
rodeos everywhere. Do you remember how old you were when you realized what your dad, ProRodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper, did for
Clint Cooper: I was probably about 5 or 6, maybe. Back then the National Finals were in Oklahoma City. And I remember that it was in Oklahoma City where it dawned on me how famous he was, and how everybody respected him — and how good he was at the sport that he did.
C&I: As a child, were you ever scared while watching your dad compete?
Clint: You know, to be honest, I was never scared. But I was there that day when he got his wrist caught in the rope and it broke in half. And I do remember running out to the ring and seeing his arm, like, dangling there. And I remember I just started crying because I just couldn’t believe it. I was about 6, 7 at the time.
C&I: Even so, that wasn’t enough to dissuade you from going into the family business, was it?
Clint: I guess not. Me and my two other brothers, we all chose the profession. I mean, I played basket- ball forever — I thought I might do that. But I was fortunate that at a young age I competed and won a couple of trailers and saddles and stuff. And I figured, Hey, you can’t beat this. I just got caught up in the lifestyle and everything. I was 8 years old when I won my first couple of saddles.
C&I: And your momma didn’t mind that her babies grew up to be cowboys?
Clint: [Laughs.] Not at all. In fact, my mother took me to every competition you could think of, from the time I was 7 until I was around 18. All the high school rodeos, the American Junior Rodeo Association rodeos, the High Plains Junior Rodeo. She hauled me everywhere.
C&I: Would you say that rodeoing is just something in the Cooper family DNA?
Clint: Well, I do think that we’ve been extremely blessed in that way. Because, obviously, my grandfather [Dale “Tuffy” Cooper] did it. And my dad. And my uncle Clay Tom Cooper, who made the finals a bunch. And my aunt, Betty Gayle Cooper, who won the women’s world championship several times. I guess we’re just keeping it in the family.
C&I: What horse are you riding in events these days?
Clint: Still riding Sweetness, same one I rode last year. The PRCA Horse of the Year. He’s just the best horse there is, speed-wise and in terms of scoring. There’s just no other horse out there like that. See, he’s a big horse. So we can take a big calf at Cheyenne [Wyoming] and jerk him down, or we can go up to Idaho and just turn him around.
C&I: You and your brothers often compete against each other at rodeos. Does this competitiveness spill over into other parts of your lives? Like, do you compete to see who can fix the best barbecue or have the best fantasy football league?
Clint: [Laughs.] Not really. But it’s like I said: We’ve all been blessed, we’re all fortunate — and we all want to win. Me, Clif, and Tuf — we all want to be first every time, without a doubt. But at the same time, we’re all pulling for one another. It’s like, we’ll all kick each other’s butts, but we all want to see each other win and be successful. I certainly know the work and effort that they put into it. Like they know about me. We grew up in the arena every day — practicing and watching one another rope and stuff like that. So we’ve always been there for each other and helped each other. I can go to my brothers and ask them a question, and I know they’ll be honest with me because we grew up together and saw each other roping day in and day out. I could ask somebody else, but it probably wouldn’t be as reliable.
FUTURE PLANS: Now 29, champion tie- down roper Clint Cooper says he hopes he has “another 10 years left in me” on the professional rodeo circuit. He is currently on track to compete in the 2011 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
THE SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS: “I guess it all boils down to the work ethic,” Clint says. “And attitude. And a lot of luck, I think. My dad practiced so much, and put so much time into it. So me and my brothers tried to follow in his footsteps.”