Lane Cooper grew up watching his father, Michael, build a hall of fame career in the cutting horse industry, so he learned a thing or two about being the best in his sport.
And that’s exactly what he’s done roping for the Weatherford College rodeo team, earning a place in the program’s history books.
Lane qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo for a third consecutive season, competing in team roping with Blake Bentley. He joined Casey Tew (2014-16) as the only Coyotes to accomplish that feat.
Ordinarily, it would be the greatest feeling in the world, were he able to compete next month in Casper, Wyoming.
But he’s not, because the COVID-19 pandemic ended the college rodeo season prematurely. He and Bentley were sitting atop the Southwest Region standings of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association at the time of the stoppage and were thus declared regional champions.
“The sudden end to the season was unexpected and a little disappointing because we were on our way to possibly setting a new school record,” Cooper said. “However, I am very thankful to be given the opportunity to rodeo in such a great region with amazing coaches and competitors.”
Since NIRA athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility at their respective schools, Cooper could have actually broken the record next year if he returned and qualified again. However, he has opted not to return, he said.
“I will not be returning to WC. I will miss Johnny Emmons because he is a wonderful coach,” Cooper said. “My plan in the near future is to begin real estate school and, hopefully, get the opportunity to create my own real estate company.”
With a sixth-place national finish in 2018, two regional championships and three CNFR berths, Emmons said Cooper is simply one of the best the program has ever had.
“Lane Cooper has been a bright spot on our team the entire time he has been here. He’s just one of those kids that you love to have on your team,” Emmons said. “He’s an athlete, a fighter, a winner and one of the nicest, most respectful, positive, energetic people you’ll ever meet.
“He’s one of those you just know is going to come through for you or someone you would say will be one of the most successful 10 years down the road. I have a lot of respect for him, and I know he will be successful at whatever he decides to do in life.”
Cooper said he will miss the competition.
“Roping is my favorite event because there are so many unknowns and you have to be able to adapt to them to win,” he said. “The excitement I feel when I rope is the special bond between my horses and me, and I love the competition.
“I don’t plan to compete professionally as a career because I hate driving and being away from home and family, and to be successful I would need to be gone more than I would prefer.”
He’s also going to miss WC greatly, he said, adding that he will forever appreciate the opportunities the school and the program gave him.
“I want to thank Johnny and President Tod Allen Farmer for everything they have done. Also, God for watching over me and keeping me on the right track,” he said. “Lastly, I would like to thank my parents, Michael and Jennifer Cooper, for the support and help throughout this journey, as well as my trainer, Slick Robinson, for putting up with me throughout my highs and lows, and pushing me to get me where I am at today.”