Junior Nogueira takes Team Roping USA by storm.
“I’m a long way from Brazil — 10 miles, maybe 10,000 miles.” Junior Nogueira apologizes for his English often. He’s already enrolled in classes for 2015. Even so, his command of our mother tongue is far better than most of our Portuguese.
Born to roping parents, he was addicted from the start. Seven times, the 24-year-old native of Presidente Prudente, Brazil, won his country’s most prestigious roping event, claiming nine new cars, 54 motorcycles, and two horse trailers over the course of his Brazilian career. Still, the young man’s dreams never recognized borders.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of roping at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo,” Nogueira says. Seeds that were surely planted by Allen Bach, the champion team roper from Texas.
When he was a shiny new 6-year-old, Bach visited Brazil to conduct a clinic. Recognizing the fierce determination in the little boy’s eyes because he’d seen the same look in the mirror during his own youth, Bach wasn’t surprised when 18 years later, Nogueira showed up in the United States. He had $500 in his pocket and no rope, but he was here. That was early in 2014. Not even a year later, thanks to the gathering of a tribe of wild, roping angels, he’s here at the NFR.
This is no “be careful what you wish for” tale. What was he feeling when he blasted into the arena on opening night with the Brazilian flag flying?
“Man. That’s amazing. I feel like I was sleeping, you know?” Nogueira says. “I been dreaming of that moment all my life, until I was a little bitty kid I been dreaming that time and like, when the sooner I got there and I see the tunnel and I have the Brazilian flag and they calling my name and I was so proud and so thankful for God, you know? Because I know I’m here for a reason and that reason is God.”
Nogueira continues: “Everybody knows how hard it is to do all the rodeos. Everybody says it’s a dream come true, but for me it’s really, really, really, really a dream come true and I need to say thank you. A lot of people helped me, Mr. Allen Bach helped me a lot. Mr. Jade Corkill, Mr. Jake Barnes — God talked to their hearts. They saw a little kid come here from Brazil, and they just opened their doors.”