PRYOR, Okla. – Coleman Proctor has had a pretty good year, but he’s hoping it just keeps getting better.
“The best part of this year was definitely having this little princess,” Proctor said of Stella Rein Lèon Proctor, born Oct. 27. “Watching her being born, seeing the gift of life right in front of you … it was something I was really looking forward to.”
With that, he will have one more fan in the stands as the team roper from Pryor chases his gold-buckle dreams at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, set for Dec. 7-16 in Las Vegas.
His fourth qualification is just the icing on the cake to a terrific 2017 season, one in which he earned $98,000 through the regular season and enters ProRodeo’s grand finale No. 5 in the world standings.
“She’s pretty well got me wrapped around her finger already,” he said.
Proctor, a header, had the best regular season of his career. Roping with Billie Jack Saebens of Nowata, Okla., Proctor has established himself as one of the best headers in ProRodeo. This is his fourth straight NFR qualification and his second with Saebens.
“Billie and I just had a great year,” Proctor said. “It got slow this winter, but I didn’t head very good this winter. I made some adjustments to my game at the arena here at the house. It made a big difference.
“I also made a mentality change, and it happened about the time I found out we were having Stella. The first person I told was (former partner) Jake Long, and he said, ‘Boy, you’re going to start doing some winning.’ ”
Long was right. Proctor and Saebens reeled in 11 victories, including three that were lucrative Wrangler Championship Challenge events. Those, combined with placing at key rodeos along the way, helped push both men into the top five in their respective standings.
“You want to be a top-five guy throughout the year,” he said. “I’m tired of going to the NFR at the bottom. That’s where the last two years have been. But I’ve done my job, and I’ve got the best heeler in the world.
“It’s something I’ve been working toward. Now I have a legit chance to win a world title. That made the year a lot less stressful.”
But the year didn’t come without its stress. On Sept. 14, Proctor’s father-in-law, Garey Arnold, died unexpectedly. Not only was he trying to comfort his wife, Stephanie, and her family, but Proctor also realized his own mourning at the time.
While Proctor was on the rodeo trail, Arnold took care of things around the house.
“When I was gone, I never had to worry,” Proctor said. “He did everything around here. We’ve got some projects going on every time I was home.
“I’m just going to miss having my running buddy.”
But he’ll have plenty of memories, all while making memories with his own daughter. She won’t remember anything from her first trip to Las Vegas, but Daddy is hoping she’ll have a good scrapbook. By roping consistently throughout the season, he has the first few pages already crafted.
Though he struggled some during the summer months, his solid start to the season helped the tandem stay in contention despite a mediocre middle. Although he trails leader Kaleb Driggers by nearly $36,000, Proctor can make that up over two nights in the Nevada desert, where go-round winners will pocket more than $26,000 per night for 10 rounds.
“My roping’s been good,” he said. “I feel better than I’ve ever felt. It’s just been easy, and that’s always fun when it’s easy because there’s so much confidence you have in your ability. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Billie and I as a team. I think our runs have developed, and it’s easier to see things coming.”
That’s the measure of a team’s development hitting its stride. Proctor’s team includes much more than Saebens. It includes his wife, daughter, family, friends and sponsors – Southern Welding, SpeedRoping.com, Riverbend Arena, Lonestar Ropes, Justin Boots, Wrangler, Coats Saddlery, CSI Saddlepads, Brazos Valley Equine Hospital, DF Quarterhorses, Purina, Hot Heels and Classic Truck Sales.
While they’ve all shared their support in many ways, he knows he has a team of equine stars that help put food on the table.
“Horsepower is so important, and I’m real confident in the ones I have,” Proctor said. “When your horses are good and your attitude’s good, it seems like the winning keeps coming around. It’s been fun all year.”
He’s counting on that fun to continue down the road to Las Vegas, where the arena is lined with gold, just like Coleman Proctor’s dreams.