Are you Hungry? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently, I’ve been to three awesome jackpots where attendance, in both contestants and spectators, assures me our sport is alive and well–even in the midst of an economic crunch.

The first was Joe’s Boot Shop Roping in Clovis, New Mexico and I have to commend Joe Rhodes for putting on another great event. They roped nearly around the clock for three days with the open held on the third day. There was something for everyone to rope in.

Next, was the Justin Mass roping in Giddings, Texas. Another great roping that paid well. That night, we went to Joe Beaver’s for the ten-man elimination style match roping that benefits the children’s hospital. Trevor won it. The amount of spectators at this event was mind-boggling.

These are great jackpots where you get to run a lot of calves for a lot of money–and it was exactly what I needed. Up to this point, I have been struggling somewhat. In the past, I’ve always had lots of motivation at the winter buildings and through the spring. To compete successfully, day in and day out, you have to be driven and hungry to win.

This year, after achieving a lifetime goal, it’s been more difficult. Everywhere I go, people slap me on the back and congratulate me. They’re so supportive and happy for me. It’s been hard to keep the determined mentality that I normally have. It’s made it hard to come back with a vengeance.

It’s kind of like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry versus going after you’ve just eaten.  You can be determined, but unless you’re hungry, it’s not the same. I’ve been full and content. I’ve probably roped and practiced as much as ever, but I’ve been looking for the spark–that “eye of the tiger.”

I talked to Joe Beaver about it and he said after he won his first gold buckle, he almost didn’t make the finals the following year. I totally understand that. I still have the same competitiveness and even the dissatisfaction when I don’t win, but the hunger before I rope has been lacking. These jackpots gave me the taste of blood I needed to be hungry again.

Most sports, especially at higher levels, require a balance. Let’s face it, competing at a world class level requires an edge where you have an animal instinct with a taste for blood. It’s the opposite of wandering through a beautiful garden and getting a warm, fuzzy, and peaceful feeling.

Though you need to tap into that animal, you need to learn to turn him on and off. You better be hungry and able to feed that animal, but also know when and how to turn him off. That’s where we’re called to find a balance–both ways.

Till next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.