Dec. 21, 2010
Story courtesy of Lubbock Christian Sports Information
LUBBOCK, Texas - With over 30 years of head coaching experience and over 400 wins on the hardwood, who would have thought that Lubbock Christian (Texas) head men's basketball coach John Copeland would have one of his biggest accomplishments completed in a rodeo arena. On Dec. 11, Copeland, who competes in amateur team roping events as a hobby, won the Bloomer Trailers #10 Lo-Am Finale at the World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas. The title came with a check for $200,000, which he split with partner Sparky Stephens of Hereford.
"The professionals up here don't win that much in one sitting," Copeland said in reference to the PRCA National Finals Rodeo, which has its events coincide with the World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas. "That's what's unbelievable, that an amateur, and a 60-year-old man, can rope for that much (money)."
Copeland, who has been roping since childhood, said he had never won more than about $30,000 in a rodeo. He also had never won a main event at the World Series of Team Roping, and said he and Stephens "never thought about winning this thing."
But they were in second place after the first three rounds and surged into first during the final round. They finished with an overall time of 37.85 seconds, beating Ken Calkins and Darrell Rennels of Colorado by more than three seconds.
"It was pretty exciting," Copeland said. "I never won before, probably never will again. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal, I'm sure."
Copeland said some of his Chaparrals follow the coach's part-time rodeo career, and senior guard Clay Roberts sent him a congratulatory text message shortly after the final. Copeland does most of his roping during the summer, but a 22-day break between basketball games afforded him the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas.
"Some of them have seen a little bit of it, but I don't talk about it much," he said. "I don't want it to take away from basketball."
If he chooses to brag about his victory to his players, who are 7-2 on the court this year, Copeland will have some "really, really nice stuff" to show off. He said he won belt buckles, blue jeans, hats, jackets, saddles and statues along with the big check, which made it out of Las Vegas intact.
"I've got every cent of it," he said.