More than 10 PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) cardholders reside in Wise County today, including nine-time All-Around Champion Trevor Brazile, eight-time World Champion Calf Roper Roy Cooper, and sons Clif, Clint and Tuf Cooper. Competing in events such as tie-down calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing and other timed competitions, these professional cowboys and cowgirls set an example for a younger generation pining for similar success.
“It’s great to have so many great role models that live so close,” Paradise sophomore Marilyn Melvin said. “It’s great to have some hometown heroes to support at the rodeos and at the National Finals. I can’t wait to join the group of PRCA cardholders in Wise County when I turn 18.”
Her father, nine-time NFR qualifier Marty Melvin, has held a membership for more than 30 years after winning the Badlands Circuit AA on his permit in 1979.
“I competed in bareback, saddlebronc, bull riding and steer wrestling,” he said. “I went to the NFR in steer wrestling.”
Marilyn’s brother, Paradise senior Paul Melvin, competes in calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling and ribbon roping. Currently working toward filling his permit, he hopes to one day be counted amongst professionals like his father.
“I plan to finish out of high school rodeo strong, do good in college rodeo and make it to the NFR and hopefully get some world titles under my belt,” he said.
As a competitor, Paul focuses on maintaining the same work ethic his dad perpetuated throughout his career.
“My dad has a winning attitude; he overcame everything he faced, and he worked and practiced hard,” Paul said. “He didn’t make it about him, and he helped other people. But he took care of business and did what he needed to do.”
Serving as their mentor in and out of the arena, Marty coaches and critiques his kids’ runs while also showing them how to live their lives in the best possible manner.
“I enjoy watching them improve and watching them learn what it takes to be a winner in life, as a Christian and in the arena,” he said. “I encourage them to give 100 percent every time.”
Competing in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and girl’s cutting, Marilyn recognizes the added pressure of living amongst great athletes.
“Of course, it puts a little pressure on anyone that has so many pros to look up to,” she said. “But you just have to remember that you rodeo for you, not anyone else, and you just know that you’re going to work hard and succeed just as they have.”
Dedicated and focused on his own goals, Decatur freshman Jake Cobb works every day to emulate his favorite hometown hero, Trevor Brazile.
“I really look up to Trevor because he is consistent,” he said. “He’s broken records in the NFR, and I would like to do that in my career.”
On the weekends, Cobb travels with his family to places like Saginaw, Cleburne and Mineral Wells to compete in tie-down roping and ribbon roping. As a member of two rodeo associations, he knows that slacking off won’t push him to where he needs to go.
“I practice every other day because I want to improve my roping skills,” he said. “I think Trevor has gotten as far as he has because he practices a lot, and he loves what he does.”
In the future, Cobb plans to compete on the rodeo team at Texas A&M University and then try to earn a spot at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“I plan to practice a lot and get to know professionals that can help me along the way,” he said.
His role model happens to believe that the next generation of rodeo athletes is already one step ahead.
“I think that the future is definitely bright,” Brazile said. “I think that the next generation is ahead of the last because of opportunities at schools and different mentorships and especially having these types of cowboys in this area.”
All generations of rodeo fans in Wise County and the country strive to reach the standards Brazile sets in the roping arena, yet he focuses on a bigger picture.
“I think people put too much pressure on athletes and other celebrities as far as role models,” he said. “If you’re in the position to change someone’s life, then I think we all have a part in that, even if it is just one person.”
Knowing what it takes to get to the top, Brazile offers words of wisdom to the next NFR hopeful.
“You have to be able to love what you do because there are no days off,” he said. “It’s something that you have to want to do every day; it has to be that kind of love. Otherwise it just feels like a job.”