Slaying our Giants (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

There’s no doubt in my mind that my father would have been a world champion calf roper if he had chosen to make a career in rodeo. I have a picture of him from the National Finals Rodeo in Dallas where he was getting off on the right side and holding his slack. Obviously he was way ahead of his time. The most rodeos he made in any one year was thirty-eight, and that’s back when most people went to all they could get to.

There were two things that kept him from being all that he could be as a roper or from winning world titles.

First, he never spent any amount of money for a horse and always made his own. There’s nothing wrong with that and I respect him for that.

Secondly, he had a family with five kids and did not want to leave us. He always had one or two jobs at home and just went to a few rodeos. He stayed home for his family. My dad has no regrets what-so-ever and knows he made the right choice. As one of his five kids, I know I’m grateful. Having my dad there while I was growing up and learning had a huge impact on the man and roper I am today.

Knowing this, I’ve taken those two things on in my own life as giants to slay. I focus on those two things and will do whatever it takes. I’ll never let money keep me from buying the right horse, even if I have to borrow it.

As for the other, I don’t want to be away from my family anymore than my father did. To be the husband and father I want to be, I need to have my family with me. As much as I love what I do, it will never be as important or deprive me of my family. Therefore, we travel in a ‘Toter Home’ which is basically like a NASCAR tour bus with living quarters.

To excel at anything requires sacrifice of some kind. In the last year, by working with a trainer, I’ve radically improved my strength and agility. None of which came without sacrifice. Whether it’s giving up some of my favorite food or the hundred plus sit-ups I do every day, it’s worth it for the improvement it’s made in me and my roping.

In the end, I won’t define my career by world titles, NFR qualifications, or money won. I will judge myself by asking if I did everything possible to be the very best I could be. To really evaluate my career, everything has to be taken in perspective including the adversities, wins, and losses. That’s what I use to evaluate myself and not by comparing myself to others. I will have to know, without a doubt that I left nothing to chance and no stone unturned.

If you have giants you need to slay, go after them with whatever you have. Even if it’s only a slingshot.

See you down the line and God bless.

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How do you Win? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The million-dollar question that I hear most is, “How do you win?” The answer is in how well you deal with pressure. Pressure will either make you or break you and how you handle it will determine how successful you’ll be.

To me pressure is a privilege. Say you’re in the short go – how did you get there? I’m sure it wasn’t with a lottery ticket or being pulled out of a crowd. At the National Finals they don’t randomly draw fifteen contestants from each event. Those are the top fifteen who have won over and over. The next time you’re in that situation with sweaty palms and a cottonmouth, remember you earned the right to be there. Being in that situation also means you’re prepared for those times. You’ve trained and prepared yourself for this moment in time, or you wouldn’t be there.

Pressure can be a huge distraction, but I choose to feed from it and let it make me even more focused and determined.

The way to deal with pressure is to focus. To stay focused I use the KISS method – “Keep it simple Stran.” I take that nervous energy and channel it into focus, which heightens my senses. I can recall being in situations where I was so focused that things slowed down and it was like being in slow motion. I couldn’t hear the announcer, I could almost smell my rope – I was so focused my senses were ultra sensitive.

There are a few things I concentrate on when I rope. I will focus on what I’m doing with my eyes and where I’m looking. When I’m sitting in the box I will find a spot on my calf’s neck – not the entire calf or just the neck area – I’m talking about an inch square. I watch that part of his neck to see my start and focus on that. It’s easy to get caught up in the announcer or the crowd when you’re in a strange place. You need to learn to tune those distractions out and make it your own.

You can’t wait until you get to the WNFR in Las Vegas to get control of your mind. We talk a lot about practicing, well, practice focusing – faithfully because it takes a lot of practice to master. It’s well worth it because controlling emotions and handling pressure is the difference between those who win and those who don’t.

Another key in focusing and winning is knowing your limitations and staying within them. How many times have you seen someone at the rodeo try something they wouldn’t have attempted at home? No matter how long you’ve roped or how much you’ve won, you will always need to focus because that rope only knows one thing. It goes where you throw it.

Stay focused and I’ll see you down the line. God Bless.

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You’re Always Making Memories (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I’m up in Austin tonight and it made me think of a funny story. About seven years ago I was traveling with a rookie named Josh Crow, who’s now one of my best friends. Naturally being a rookie, he endured a lot of ribbing from me but overall he took it pretty well.

We had just finished roping in Austin and stopped to eat a bite before getting on the interstate. Leaving the restaurant our driver, Johnny, headed for the truck and as Josh and I started to get in the trailer we noticed the generator had come unplugged. Josh told me to go ahead, he’d climb up top and take care of it.

I got settled in the trailer, put in a movie and we took off. Josh never got in the trailer so I figured he decided to ride in the truck. We’d barely gotten on the interstate when my phone rang. All I could hear was wind blowing and someone screaming. Finally I realize that it’s Josh and I think he’s trying to play a trick on me by leaning out of the truck window.

The call gets dropped and my phone rings again. This time I hear Josh screaming, “I’m on the trailer!!!”

We’re on interstate I-35 going about 75 miles an hour and Josh is scared to death. I try to call Johnny up in the truck and he’s not answering. I figure I’ll stick a corner of the comforter out of the trailer window to get his attention. He doesn’t notice that so I keep feeding the comforter out of the window until almost the entire king size comforter is flapping beside the trailer and about to pull my arm out of the socket.

Finally a truck driver pulls up beside us and I point to the pick up. The truck driver gets Johnny’s attention and seeing the comforter, he immediately whips it over. Poor Josh climbs down and looks like a tornado survivor. He’d been up there about fifteen miles and said, “You can’t believe how close those overpasses are to the top of the trailer!”

Recalling that story it dawned on me how blessed I’ve been through the years to spend time with great people doing what I do. The friendships I’ve formed are priceless. These memories make me realize that none of these experiences are by accident. God works in ALL things – through good, bad and even funny times. All means all.

I don’t believe in living in the past, but I do think it’s important to reflect back and learn from our past. Too many of us live for the future without taking the time to enjoy what we have right now. As my mother often tells me about the time I spend with my sons, “You’re always making memories.”

God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.

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Knowledge is Power (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

We often hear the phrase “knowledge is power.” While very true, there’s a big difference between revealed knowledge and communicated knowledge. Communicated knowledge is something you know from reading, being told or observing. Revealed knowledge comes from the first hand experience of doing which eventually becomes a “knowing.”

While teaching, I can put a student in the correct position, put my string in his hand and tell him exactly what to do. That’s communicated knowledge and though it’s true, it won’t help him much until he spends some time turning it into revealed knowledge.

Revealed knowledge comes from experience. By doing something enough that you just know it. No successful roper you watch on television got there by luck, fortune or fame. They all put in the time it took to get there and made necessary sacrifices.

At a school I was teaching one of the kids asked me what it took to be a winner. I gave him the politically correct answer about hard work, dedication, etc. Later on he asked again, and I went in depth a little more. After two days, at the end of the school, the students looked like they’d been in a boxing match. Their hands were taped, they were sore and bruised and all looking for somewhere to lie down and lick their wounds. The same kid asked me again what it took to win.

This time I answered, “Go do what you’ve done for the last two days for 600 days out of the next two years. Each year take off 65 days whenever you want. Come back after two years and then we’ll talk, because by then you will have started to understand what it takes.” When I was in college I practiced like that for five years.

No matter what you want in life, you will be as successful as the amount of time you are willing to put in it. There are people who read books and listen to tapes to learn to win and then there are those who simply win. Winning takes care of itself and the more prepared you are – the more you win. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

I’ll see you down the line. God Bless.

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Who am I? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

At start of each year I like to evaluate my goals and priorities. I’ve heard that you have a seventy percent better chance of reaching goals when you write them down. This self- evaluation is an on-going process; but each new year I do some genuine soul searching, not just as a roper, but as a man. Keeping life balanced requires asking myself some pretty deep and tough questions:

Will the world be a better place because I was here? What will I be remembered for and what will be my legacy? Will it be for my roping, because I was in GQ magazine or for the posters and ads I’ve been in? What’s important to me is to be remembered as a good Christian man who set a good example for those I had influence over.

What’s your passion? We all need to be passionate in whatever we’re doing in life. Are you going after your passion – or is it a daydream? It would be a tragedy for me to have my passion for roping and not get a chance to pursue it. I think there are many people without happiness because they’re caught up in the daily grind of life, trying to get by and are not true to their passion. I’m incredibly blessed to be successful at my passion.

Has anything changed me or knocked me off course in pursuit of my goals. The most important thing to me is having a balance. For instance, what if I were the fastest man alive in the arena from the time my feet hit the ground until I threw my hands in the air. It wouldn’t be very beneficial if I couldn’t score and catch. I’d rather be well balanced in all areas. There would be little reward in being the best roper in the world and not have a family who loved you to share it with.

How do you overcome adversity? Does it make you better or set you back. If you’re in a hole and someone throws dirt on you – do you use that dirt to take a step up – or do you let that dirt cover you up? Enjoy every stage of life and when you’re struggling embrace it and know you’ll be better from the challenge. You’ll not only survive but you’ll improve from the experience. Find your weak spots and work on it. Acknowledge and attack it and turn it into a positive.

Who are you allowing to speak into your life? Who and what are you listening to? Are they speaking good and positive things or are they speaking deadly negatives? God will put everyone in your life that needs to be there, but it’s our responsibility to put them in the right place. I have no room for negatives because what you take in will come out. I ask myself if the people I’m allowing to speak in my life are telling me the things I need to hear to get where I need to go. Have I told the people who influence my life how much I love and appreciate them?

If these questions seem thought provoking and deep, it’s because they’re supposed to be. Most importantly, just be real.

God bless, and I’ll see you down the line.

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NFR Report (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

It’s nice to be home after two weeks in Las Vegas. The finals are history for another year. Overall, I’m satisfied with the outcome. I won second in the average and about $86,000 between average and round money. My biggest excitement is how well my mare did. She won the Calf Horse award at the NFR. Going in to the finals I had pretty big expectations for her and she surpassed them all. During the entire ten rounds she didn’t make one mistake.

Unfortunately, a few mishaps along the way keep me from being able to say the same thing about my performance. In all events, some had a great finals, some had a good finals and then some didn’t enjoy much success. When you’re having a bad finals, it’s tough to remind yourself that you belong there – you earned it by being one of the top fifteen competitors in the world. The national finals rodeo is not an invitational event.

Most people will never realize what it takes to make the national finals. The hours of practice, the ups and downs of competition and sacrifices are all part of the journey. And everyone who makes it secretly hopes they don’t go through a “slump” during that ten days – but sometimes it happens.

I’d like to thank everyone for their support during the finals. Thanks to everyone who voted for my horse. She’s phenomenal and I’m truly grateful that I get to take care of her and ride her.

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

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Darkness to the Light (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I hurt my shoulder to the point I wondered at times if I was facing the end of my roping career. After surgery last December, they told me I would be out six months. Then I met evangelist, Paula White, who introduced me to the premier physical and personal trainer, Dodd Romero. Under his supervision I was back in the arena competing in just over three months.

One question I often hear is, “How did you rehabilitate your shoulder so quickly?” What most people don’t understand is Dodd didn’t just rehab my shoulder – he changed my entire life. From what and how I eat, to my sleeping habits all the way to my physical training. This year I’ve lost thirty pounds and while many said I would lose my strength, exactly the opposite is true. I’ve had both knees operated on and for the first time in a long, long time they don’t hurt anymore.

I’m quicker, lighter, more agile and don’t hurt. I haven’t given a lot of thought about getting older, but in fact I’m now 37 but feel better than ever. If I can do it, anyone can. It’s not rocket science – it’s changing your diet and exercise. A lot of people get discouraged after starting an exercise program because they don’t lose weight. But they keep eating the same old things.

The key is to incorporate all of it – cardio, diet and exercise. You cut out all the bad carbs like potatoes, bread, fried foods and no sugar at all. Everyone says, “Well, there’s nothing left to eat,” but I haven’t starved to death. In fact, I eat four or five times a day. A typical breakfast for me is scrambled egg whites with onions and mushrooms, with turkey bacon or steak. Lunch includes a good protein like fish, along with a sweet potato or steamed vegetables. I also drink a lot of protein shakes.

My exercise program includes a lower body workout two or three times weekly, an upper body workout a couple of times a week and for cardio I ride a bike five to ten miles every day. To strengthen the core, where it all starts, I do 100 to 500 sit-ups every day.

Considering the risk of coming back at my full capabilities, I have taken a lot of chances this year.  When I lost Topper, I, for the first time in my life, took out a loan to buy a horse.  That loan also bought a toter home.  I could probably rodeo out of a crew cab pick-up and trailer – but I won’t ask my wife and kids to. My mental health is as important as my physical health and for me to be mentally healthy I need my family with me. It’s fulfilling and important for us to be a unit and together and honestly, when they can’t go with me anymore – I don’t care to go anymore.

Ultimately had I not gotten hurt last year, I would have been robbed of this life transformation.  If you remember, a year ago when I got hurt, I thanked God for the opportunity to learn from this experience – well, now it all makes more sense.  God does take us from the darkness to the light.  That’s the rest of the story… for now.

If you have any questions or anything you’d like to read about, drop me a line at strant@aol.com. God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.

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Daniel Green is the World’s Greatest Roper – Two Years in a Row

GUTHRIE, Okla., October 28, 2007 – Competition was fast and furious with the top 20 ropers in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) contending for the title of the 2007 Wrangler World’s Greatest Roper. In the end, 2006 Defending Champion Daniel Green reclaimed the title and took home earnings of $25,000.00. After chasing last year’s runner-up Coleman Proctor for the first two performances, Green narrowed the gap and surpassed Proctor’s total time. Proctor went on to finish fourth overall.

Green, a native of California has proven to many over his rodeo career to be one of the greatest ropers in the history of the sport. A year ago, he put a stranglehold on that sentiment by becoming the first champion in Wrangler World’s Greatest Roper history. That, combined with this year’s victory plus his 2002 Wrangler Timed Event Championship solidifies Green’s place as the World’s Greatest Roper.

The final short round came down to a “who’s who” of current rodeo lore. Seasoned champions and proven winners pursued Green in the final round which included the likes of Four-Time PRCA All-Around World Champion Trevor Brazile, Eight-time PRCA World Champion Team Roper Speed Williams, and the 2006 PRCA World Champion Team Roper Matt Sherwood.

Former National Finals Rodeo Team Roping qualifier Jay Adams of Logandale, Nevada claimed the Fastest Round of the event with a 23.5 in the third round for a check of $7,000.00.

The event proved to be a true all-around test of roping skills. Each contestant was required to compete in three roping disciplines: tie-down roping, team roping heading, and team roping heeling. All totaled, each contestant roped 18-head of stock over two days with the top five roping an additional 3-head to determine the event champion. The World’s Greatest Roper was developed by the Lazy E in 2006 to determine the best roper in the world — the man who could stand out in more than his specialty roping event, the man who could be consistent over two days and seven rounds of over-all competition. This event attracted the biggest names in the rodeo industry in addition to fans from across the country!

The Wrangler World’s Greatest Roper is sponsored by Wrangler, Dodge, Priefert Ranch & Rodeo Equipment, Boyd Gaming, MidFirst Bank, Hiram West Silversmiths, Cactus Saddlery, Christensen Media Group, Bloomer Trailers, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, KWTV News 9, The Oklahoman, Lane Frost Sportsmedicine, the Best Western-Edmond and the Fairfield Marriott Inn & Suites-Edmond.

The World’s Greatest Roper is a Lazy E Production. For more information on the World’s Greatest Roper or other Lazy E events, contact the Lazy E Arena, 9600 Lazy E Drive, Guthrie, OK 73044, (405) 282-RIDE, (800) 595-RIDE or visit www.lazye.com.

WRANGLER WORLD’S GREATEST ROPER FINAL STANDINGS and RESULTS

Average On 21 Head:

* Daniel Green, Oakdale California, 234.5, $25,00
* Speed Williams, De Leon, Texas 246.9, $12,000
* Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas 252.8, $7,000
* Coleman Proctor, Miami, Oklahoma, 279.8, $4,000
* Matt Sherwood, Queen Creek, Arizona 289.8, $2,00

Fastest Rounds:

* Jay Adams, Logandale, Nevada 23.5, $7,000
* Jake Cooper, Monument, New Mexico 25.3, $5,000
* Jess Tierney, Hermosa, South Dakota, 25.7, $4,000
* Jimmie Cooper, Monument, New Mexico 26.3, $2,000

Fastest Run Bonuses:

* Heading Jim Cooper, Monument, New Mexico, 5.2, $4,000
* Tie Down, Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 9.5, $4,000
* Heeling Jim Cooper, Monument, New Mexico, 5.6, $4,000

CONTESTANT LIST:

1. DANIEL GREEN
2. COLEMAN PROCTOR
3. COLE WILSON
4. STEVE DUHON
5. K.C. JONES
6. RANDON ADAMS
7. JAY ADAMS
8. TOMMY GUY
9. TREVOR BRAZILE
10. KYLE LOCKETT
11. JIMMIE COOPER
12. JESS TIERNEY
13. J.R. OLSON
14. JAKE COOPER
15. SPEED WILLIAMS
16. MATT SHERWOOD
17. JIM COOPER
18. J.D. CROUSE
19. MIKE GEORGE
20. MATT ROBERTSON

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Daniel Green Wins Second Timed Event Championship

GUTHRIE, OK – Daniel Green of Oakdale, California, claimed his second Wrangler Timed Event Championship Sunday by breaking the arena record in the average, with 276.1-seconds over 25 head of livestock. Green came into the fifth and final round with a 31-second lead over five-time event winner, Trevor Brazile and emerged the winner in a field of twenty competitors.

Green pocketed a cool $57,000 for three day’s work by winning $50,000 in the average; $4,000 for fourth fastest round; and $3,000 as an arena record bonus. Brazile claimed second place with 298.4, earning $25,000. Third was won by Casey Branquinho with a 349.2, winning $15,000.

Barely six months ago Green was crowned the Wrangler World’s Greatest Roper for the second consecutive year. This event requires twenty of the top ropers in the world to compete in heading, heeling and tie-down roping. After 18-head the top five progress to a three-head competition to determine the champion.

Daniel credits Cactus Ropes with having ropes are straight and consistent. For both heading heeling he uses a popular Cactus four-strand, the Amigo; and for calf roping he ropes with the Cactus Double S calf rope, endorsed by Stran Smith.

How does he manage to dominate the “iron man” events?

“First and foremost, it’s a blessing from God to have the talent and ability; Secondly I have to give credit to incredible support from my family, friends and sponsors like Cactus Ropes, Wrangler and Heel-O-Matic,” says Green.

Green has qualified for ten WNFR rodeos but eventually made the decision to stay home and coach soccer games and raise his three children: Grace, 9, Kyndall, 6, and Eli, 3.

“I attend a few events every year like the Timed Event, World’s Greatest Roper and the rodeos that are close – enough to feed my competitive spirit,” laughs Green.

“This is awesome and I’d like to thank my sponsors Cactus Ropes, Wrangler, and Heel-O-Matic for their great support. I’d also want to thank the many friends behind the scenes that helped make this happen: Jason Lahr, Sam Duvall, Cody Cowden, Jerome Schneeberger, Kim Zig and everyone who rooted for me.”

The World’s Greatest Roper, also held at the Lazy E Arena, will be moved this year to Reno, Nevada and held in conjunction with the Reno Rodeo and the Bob Feist Invitational on June 21st and 22nd, 2008.

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Best of the Best (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I just got back from the first annual ‘Best of the Best’ invitational calf roping held at the Joplin Regional Stockyards in Joplin, Missouri. They invited the top fifteen NFR qualifiers from 2006, plus six more, roping for a purse of $60,000. Matt Shiozawa won first which paid $26,000. There were two or three guys that won close to $10,000.

This was a well-planned event that was first class all the way. They chartered planes to come pick us all up in the Northwest; then when it was over they flew us all back. The arena was built for this event and seats 7,000 to 8,000 people. With admission at $15 per ticket, there was standing room only. The proceeds benefited Camp Barnabas, a camp for underprivileged children.

The door prizes they gave away were a Chevrolet pick up, a John Deere Gator and a gooseneck stock trailer. The man behind it all is Jackie Moore, whose livestock auction is the second largest in the United States.

Each contestant was sponsored by a business and the event was a ‘Cattle Industry College.’ Guest speakers, including congressmen and senators, spoke on behalf of the beef industry. The planning, preparation and organization was truly amazing.

This was a classy and successful event that made fans of some very affluent folks and promoted our event tremendously. Mr. Moore knew what it took to put on a good show: bring in the best and let them run more than one calf. The cowboys had time to mingle and sign autographs and the fans enjoy making that personal connection.

This year they added $40,000 and have plans to add $150,000 to next year’s event. Jackie would like first place to pay $50,000 next year. Now we’re talking Calgary kind of money. Calgary will be hard to beat because next year it will pay $250,000 to win the roping with the rounds paying $25,000. Events like this take our sport to the next level.

The rodeo season is winding down and it will be pretty hectic for the next few weeks. I’ll rope one a day for the next five days; go home for a couple of days and then have another five-day run.

For any questions or topics you want me to write about, send me an email at strant@aol.com. God Bless, see you down the line.

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