The Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA), the largest rodeo association in North America, has crowned a new Rookie of the Year in tie-down roping — and he comes from Stettler.
In a first for Canada, Stettler’s Beau Cooper has won the coveted Resistol PRCA Rookie of the Year title and was awarded his prize earlier in December in Las Vegas, NV.
The Rookie of the Year is awarded to the cowboy who earns the most money in their first year in the association as a card-holder.
Cowboys breaking into the association start of with ‘permits,’ then once they earn their first $1,000 they are eligible to buy their card and begin accruing earnings for standings.
It was a long road for Cooper in 2021. He competed in 83 events on both sides of the Canada-United States border.
“It sucked going back and forth across the border,” said Cooper.
“We had to get a COVID test every time we could come home. We spent $200 bucks every time for a test. It was a hassle.”
Partly because of that hassle, Cooper spent most of 2021 in the states.
Another part of the reason Cooper spent the majority of his time in the United States is the selection of rodeos down there.
“I didn’t really want to stay up here,” said Cooper.
“We don’t have as many rodeos as the (United States) does, and I wanted to go hard and compete everyday. That’s where my focus was.”
Cooper isn’t going to be sitting too long; he is home for the Christmas holidays before heading back down to the United States at the beginning of January for a series of winter rodeos.
First up will be a rodeo in Denver, Colo., followed by one in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We’ll get to all those big ones this year,” said Cooper.
When asked if there was any possibility the hometown crowd would be able to cheer him on in any of the local rodeos in 2022, Cooper did not sound optimistic.
“Probably not,” said Cooper.
“It depends if I’m back or not. If I’m around, I might enter it, but we get pretty busy down (in the United States). If Stettler had a pro rodeo I would be there.”
Cooper did hint at the possibility of fans being able to see him compete in the Grande Prairie or Ponoka rodeos in the summer of 2022, depending on his schedule.
With the Rookie of the Year honour secured at the highest level of rodeo, Cooper is keeping his sights kept high.
Coopers goal is to try and make the National Finals Rodeo and the Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2022 and “every year for the next however many I can.”
Rodeo definitely runs in Coopers blood: he is cousins with Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston, who just won nearly $130,000 at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in November, and with Ryan Shuckburgh of Innisfail, another PRCA member.