EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appeared in the July 2011 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News. It was the cover story, and it was great getting to know a little more about a young Texas roper.
Jaymee Roach likes to have fun. She likes to smile and laugh, and, her friends say, she likes for others to do so, too.
“Jaymee would really surprise people when you finally get to the core of her true character,” said Jackie Hobbs, Roach’s friend and roommate who is also one of the best all-around hands in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. “She’s a goofball and is probably the funniest girl I know.
“But when you’re truly around Jaymee and get to the core of who she is, you find out she has more heart and try than most people.”
That’s what life’s about for the cowgirl who grew up in Banquete, Texas, not too far from Corpus Christi and Kingsville near the state’s southern tip. On May 23, Roach teamed with Debbie Fabrizio of Pueblo, Colo., to finish second at the Windy Ryon No. 11 Ladies Roping at Saginaw, Texas.
In the process, she earned $4,825 and immediately moved to No. 3 in the team roping-heading world standings behind leader Hobbs ($12,930) and Jacque Woolman ($5,900).
A lifelong roper
Jaymee Roach wasn’t born with a rope in her hand, but it didn’t take long for her to get the grasp.
“I’ve been roping since I was 5 years old,” said Roach, who lives in Stephenville, Texas, where she works full time as a sales representative for Ivy Jane clothing line out of Dallas. “I’ve just rodeoed my whole life. I’ve done all the youth organizations, then I did college rodeo in Snyder (Western Texas College) for two years, then went to Tarleton (State University) in Stephenville. My freshman year I made the college finals in breakaway.”
The success has continued. Last year, she was the WPRA’s rookie of the year in tie-down roping, heading and heeling.
“I’ve always amateur rodeoed, and after college, I started team roping more because there aren’t that many amateur rodeos that offer a lot of roping events for girls,” Roach said. “You can do some breakaway, but you can go to team ropings all the time. I bought my WPRA card last year, and just started heading, heeling, tie-down and breakaway.”
She’s pretty good at it, too. In Saginaw, Roach and Fabrizio roped four steers in 46.43 seconds for second place in the average. They posted the fastest time of the short go-round, a 7.61-second run. It all added up to a quick march toward the top of the heading world standings.
There’s a glimmer of hope for that all-elusive world championship, but Roach has carried that in her dreams for almost all her life.
“One goal of mine is to win a world title in the heading, healing or breakaway,” she said. “Another goal of mine is to win the Wildfire All-Girl roping or win the Windy Ryon. I’ve come close, but I haven’t got it yet.”
It’s not for a lack of effort, and in this business, it’s all about hard work, talented ropers and athletic animals.
“Jaymee is an awesome friend,” Hobbs said, noting that the two of them lived roping on the Guy ranch near Abilene, Texas, before moving to Stephenville. “This past year when she came and worked on the ranch, she worked really hard on it, and she focused on her roping and working with the horses.
“There aren’t very many of us that are lucky enough to do this for a living. Now that she has a job, her roping is almost better, because she has taken what she’s learned and put it to use when she ropes.”
It helps, too, that Roach doesn’t have the pressure she once had. Before she began working with Ivy Jane, roping was her only livelihood.
“The pressure is now off her,” Hobbs said. “For a while, she was doing this as her job, working at it, trying every day, getting better. When you do that, you go through frustrations and changes with your roping. It’s hard. Then you have to make sure you win to pay bills and cover expenses.
“Now she’s gone through all that and she has a full-time job to take care of all that financial stuff. Now it’s fun. She’s actually pretty scary because she can just come out and win. It’s just her talent coming through now. She’s roping awesome.”
The world of rodeo is nothing new to the Roach family. It might just be a south Texas thing, too.
“My mom rodeoed and roped when she was younger,” Roach said. “It think she started when she was about 10. My aunt roped, and they ran barrels and all that stuff.
“I have an older brother, and he roped and rodeoed all through high school and college as well.”
Life, it seems, was spent horseback. Roach can’t remember not being on a horse, growing up riding and roping, just like everyone else in her family. Now in her mid-20s, Roach keeps her eyes on the prize and pays attention to the finest details of the task, from working horses to handling the rope, turning steers or firing at heels. Her mind’s eye sees magnificent things, and she’s worked hard to live up to those images.
“I love to watch Trevor Brazile,” she said of the 14-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion who has won gold buckles in steer roping (two), heading (one), tie-down roping (three) and all-around (a record eight). “He is just great at whatever he does. He’s a great horseman, and he handles a rope so well. He’s probably my biggest roping role model that I look up to. And he’s such a nice guy, just the way he lives his life and treats people.
“He’s a really good person as well as a rodeo cowboy.”
Idolizing possibly the greatest roper in the history of rodeo is one thing, but she’s had plenty of help along the way. She’s hung around with Lari Dee Guy and Hobbs, two of the best ropers in the WPRA, but there was plenty of influence on Roach’s career before that.
“My mom is the one who hauled me to all the rodeos,” Roach said. “My dad was there, too, and he helped me turn out calves and such, but my mom knows how to rope, and she has always helped me.”
Joanna and Rusty Roach just did what parents do, and older brother Joe Roach led the pack in the hierarchy of rodeoing siblings. It happens in many families who are involved in the sport that takes passion and hard work.
“My parents were awesome,” Jaymee Roach said. “Almost every weekend my parents were hauling me to two or three youth rodeos a weekend. We live in south Texas, so it was a long ways to go.”
It seems Roach has come a long ways, too, but she has a long ways to go to reach truly visualize her world championship dreams.
“I do this because I love it,” she said of roping. “I love it. It’s my favorite thing to do. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t ride horses or rope.”
For the time being, she rides part time while establishing herself in the world of sales. Hobbs helps take care of the horses while Roach is gone, and she gets to see up close just how thing are working out for her younger friend.
“It’s just her talent coming through now that all that pressure is off,” Hobbs said. “She’s roping awesome.”