Roping blessings: Middle school teacher ready for Finals ride

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, October 6, 2018
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Holding the Rope

HOLDING THE ROPE – Decatur middle school teacher and PRCA steer roper Jarrett Blessing, 44, practices after school at his home in Paradise Wednesday. Blessing qualified for the National Finals of Steer Roping for the first time since 2007. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The final bell rings at McCarroll Middle School, and Jarrett Blessing lowers a pile of homework in his truck and puts it in drive.

There’s a lot on the middle school teacher’s brain, but soon the pressure of the world washes away.

After his commute, Blessing, 44, finds himself at his other job – a lifestyle – where hats and boots serve a function. By 5 p.m., he’s perched on a horse, rope in hand, surrounded by dirt, steers and his team of little Blessings.

His wife, Jessica, swats horse flies and monitors the arena as Blessing’s son, Cayne, 8, works the chute. His daughter Cali, 5, graces the arena with her royal support as the North Texas Fair and Rodeo junior princess.

Steer after steer bust out of the chute as the Blessing team helps Jarrett hone his craft. It takes a blink of the eye for the roping ag teacher to bring steers to the ground, spryly dismount his horse and tie their legs into a neat little bovine bow.

“That was a good one,” Cayne Blessing said after a particularly quick rep. “Might have a shot at winning times like that.”

Band of Blessings

BAND OF BLESSINGS – Tommy Blessing, Glenda Blessing, Cayne Blessing, Lane Loiselle, Layton Loiselle, Katie Loiselle, Cali Blessing, Jessica Blessing and Jarrett Blessing make up the majority of the Blessing team which helped Jarrett hone his craft and return to the upper echelons of steer roping this year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Blessing is a full-time dad, a full-time teacher and the 12th-ranked steer roper in world. This year, for the first time since 2007, Blessing qualified for the 2018 National Finals in Steer Roping. It’s the fourth time for him to realize a childhood dream.

“When you’re a kid, that’s always the dream,” Blessing said. “Everybody’s driving force is the finals. You want to get that jacket. It’s a big deal. It means a lot. It means you’re elite.”

“The first time, I didn’t know if I was good enough to make it. You don’t know until you do.”

With responsibilities at home and at school growing by the second, Blessing began thinking he may never reach the finals again. It had been 11 years since he qualified.

In 2007, he wasn’t married yet, and didn’t have children. But this year, with his two children and his wife cheering him on, it all came together, despite competing in only 31 of 60 rodeos.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of stretches where I hit a dry spell,” Blessing said. “I just kind of won all year.”

Blessing spends every fleeting moment in preparation for steer roping. He flies and drives to rodeos across the country and is back in his classroom Monday through Friday.

It takes a toll, he said. And Blessing is the first to credit his team, especially his wife and dad, Tommy Blessing, for his accomplishments.

“Everyone has had to make a lot of sacrifices,” said Jessica Blessing, who’s also a full-time sales rep in addition to helping coordinate Jarrett’s rodeo schedule and the lives of her two budding rodeo stars in Cayne and Cali. “But this is a lifestyle and we love it. It’s an accomplishment for all of us to see Jarrett reach the finals.”

This year the sacrifice has paid off. Blessing racked up $43,560 in earnings in 2018, compared to last year where netted just $8,035

Blessing said he’s taken a different approach recently.

He’s been more aggressive, knowing that each steer and each rodeo is vital.

“I can’t do as many events as the other guys, so I have to really pick my spots and be aggressive,” Blessing said. “It’s all worked out this year.”

Unlike his competition, Blessing has to seize every moment.

He can’t miss much school, and when he does, it’s not like he can get away with being sick when his rodeo results are celebrated around town.

“It’s not like I can hide,” Blessing said.

While he’d like to take a deep breath and reflect on his season, focusing solely on the finals, he can’t.

The 2019 PRCA rodeo season is in full-swing, and the NFSR Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping is under one month away, taking place Nov. 2-3 at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kan.

“There is no offseason in rodeo,” Blessing said. “There’s no breaks. The first event of 2019 was last week.”

Leading up to the NFSR finals and beyond, the Blessing team will be fast at work, going to school and hitting the ropes across the state and the country.

When he gets to Kansas, Blessing said he and his family will stay in the moment. He knows what it takes to get there and succeed and what all has to come together.

“I want to make sure to take it all in and enjoy it – absorb it,” Blessing said. “I want to be able to have a good time, not get too uptight. Sometimes you go in and want to keep your distance and focus. But it’s not the end of the world. I’m going to rope how I am going to rope. But I want to enjoy it because, who knows, it might be my last.”

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