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WC rodeo kicks off 2019-20 season

Great atmosphere, great food, and, from the sound of it, another great team for the Weatherford College rodeo program.

But then, when is the last time the WC rodeo team wasn’t one of the best around? Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Exactly.

In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Coyotes hosted a meet-and-greet recently at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse clubhouse.

The event featured a barbecue dinner, highlights of past performances by WC rodeo greats, along with featured moments of the team’s Hall of Fame coach Johnny Emmons and master of ceremonies Anthony Lucia.

Lucia, a famous trick roper and entertainer, is also known for his talk shows on RIDE TV, “Swamp Donkey” and “Live with Lucia”, and he is the host for the new bull riding series “PBR Ride to Glory.”

The evening also included an inspirational speech from former Coyote, two-time Southwest Region champion and four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier as a professional Clif Cooper.

“I want to thank Johnny and Mr. Mike Brown for giving me the opportunity with Weatherford College rodeo,” said Cooper, who advanced to the College National Finals Rodeo in 2008 and 2009 in tie-down roping. “I’m forever grateful to Weatherford College for helping me grow mentally.”

Cooper then advised the 2019-20 team members to keep three things at the front of their minds at all times: faith, perspective and “who are you becoming? Doing the right thing every day adds up over time. I promise you, good guys always win.”

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Among the evening’s highlights were the awarding of three scholarships. The Colt Bruce Scholarship went to Hadley Miller, while the Mike Brown Memorial Scholarship for highest GPA went to Sophie Nolen and Kasen Brennise.

The latter scholarship is in memory of the former WC rodeo coach who passed away in 2015. Emmons was assistant to Brown from 2005-2012 before taking over as the head rodeo coach.

Cooper’s two-year run to nationals is part of a streak of 15 consecutive years that WC has qualified someone for the CNFR, dating to 2005. In 2007 Cody Tew won a national championship in team roping (header), and in 2005 Timber Moore was the CNFR Rookie of the Year.

In 2014 the entire WC men’s team qualified for nationals, the only time in program history. Last season, WC sent seven to nationals, of which four are back, all ropers, Kasen Brennise (Craig, Colorado), Kade Smith (Post), Blake Bentley (Burleson), and Lane Cooper (Weatherford).

Emmons noted to the crowd of about 200 that this season’s squad is the biggest rodeo team ever for WC, including 19 from out of state and 36 freshmen.

“That’s by far the largest freshmen class we’ve ever had,” Emmons said.

Dr. Andra Cantrell, WC’s executive vice president of financial and administrative affairs, told the team, “I hope you enjoy your experience here. I know you already know you have the top coach in the country.”

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Videos of Emmons during his younger competition days, accompanied by the song “Big John,” drew praise from the crowd. Emmons qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo five times in 1989, 1998, and 2001-2003.

A former Texas Circuit All-Around and three-time tie-down roping champion, Emmons qualified for the Texas Circuit Finals 20 consecutive years (1988-2007). He was the 1988 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Texas Rookie of the Year, has earned more than $800,000 in career earnings and in 2014 was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.

“Your coach can talk the talk and walk the walk,” Lucia said.

And he’s made quite an influence on the many athletes he’s coached. Including Cooper, who told the crowd for the coming season concerning nationals, “We’re going to win this thing!”

Lucia told the team, “I didn’t get the opportunity to go to college. I traveled around with my dad and a monkey named Whiplash. What a special opportunity to be able to compete on a team. Recognize how special this opportunity is and do not take it for granted.

“I’m passionate about you guys. I want you guys to do well, and I believe in each and every one of you.”

The WC rodeo season gets underway Sept. 19-21 at the Eastern New Mexico University Rodeo in Portales, New Mexico. Also on the fall schedule are the Sul Ross State University Rodeo in Alpine, Sept. 26-28; Vernon College in Vernon, Oct. 3-5; Frank Phillips College in Canadian, Oct. 10-12; and Texas Tech, Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

The Coyotes will host the WC Alumni Rodeo and Reunion on Oct. 19. Find more information on the reunion at wc150.com.

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