With Clif Cooper’s family background, handling pressure is commonplace. So when he needed to win on the final weekend of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season for another trip to the finals, he did just that.
His victory in San Bernandino, Calif. earned the former Weatherford College roper his third consecutive berth in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Dec. 6-15.
“I got lucky and called upon my faith,” said Cooper. “I learned a lot about myself digging down deep. If I’d gotten second, I would’ve finished 16th by about 20 dollars.”
The top 15 in the final regular-season standings earned a spot in Las Vegas. For a third straight year Cooper got there under the wire, having placed 13th in 2010 and 14th in 2011.
A lot of pressure comes with taking it down to the wire to qualify. But then, handling pressure has been a family habit for the Coopers for a long time.
Clif’s brother Tuf is the reigning world calf roping champion and is currently second in the world standings. His brother-in-law is eight-time all-around world champion cowboy Trevor Brazile.
And his father, Roy Cooper, was an eight-time world champion roper.
“My dad is the Michael Jordan of calf roping,” Cooper said. “That puts it in perspective. There’s tremendous pressure to perform in my family. I put a lot of pressure on myself because of what my family has accomplished.”
Cooper, 24, found immediate success when he began competing full-time on the PRCA circuit. Before that, he enjoyed a good run at Weatherford College, winning the Southwest Region in tie-down roping and representing the school at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2008 and 2009.
He was one of only a few freshmen to win the region - and performed the rarity of duplicating the feat as a sophomore.