By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 30, 2015) — For Stephenville team roping heeler Travis Woodard, the primary career goal has remained the same since 2002, and he says it won’t change just because he has punched his ticket to the 2015 National Finals Rodeo.
“I’ve roped, trained horses and sold horses for a living,” says Woodard. “But the goal has always been to make a living with my rope. That’s what this is about. Theres no kind of pressure off or pressure on just because I’ve won this rodeo or qualified for that one. I’m glad I have made enough to make the NFR, but I have bills to pay and I have to stay out here and try to win. I have a two year old and my wife is seven months pregnant, I need money.”
Not that reaching the NFR and being listed among the top ropers in the world isn’t meaningful to Travis Woodard. His father is two-time world champ and 20-time NFR qualifier Walt Woodard.
“It’s been pretty fun getting to this point. It was kind of stressful going into this stretch when I knew I could potentially be making my first NFR,” said Travis Woodard, who joined the PRCA in 2002. “It’s probably more special to me because I have struggled so long to finally make it the first time. I’m so thankful, and very aware of how difficult it is to make it. It’s something off my bucket list that I’ve been thinking about my whole life, ever since I started roping and watching my dad go there. To put it all together and have a great year and make it happen is wonderful.”
With $73,329.92 in 2015 PRCA earnings, Woodard is fifth in the most recently updated world heeler standings, available online at prorodeo.com. His heading partner, Derrick Begay of Seba Dalkai, Ariz., is third with $78,379.82. The tandem won the most recent recent Wrangler Champions Challenge at the Horse Heaven Round-up in Kennewick, Wash. last Tuesday, roping head and heels in 4.2 seconds for $5,440 each.
“Just to be a part of them is unbelievable,” said Woodard of competing in the limited Champions Challenge events. “There are only 11 guys, and only four alternating positions, so they’re hard to qualify for. It’s almost impossible to get in, and when you do it seems like an unfair advantage to even be in them but I’ll take it.”
He’s done more than just take it. More like take full advantage. In five Champions Challenge competitions, he has placed first through fifth, and he has a sixth coming up in Omaha, Neb.
Woodard may be following his father’s footsteps to Las Vegas, but he says their relationship doesn’t revolve around the sport.
“A lot of people ask me what it’s like being his son. If my dad would have been a firemen or whatever, I would probably still want to be just like him the same way my kid wants to be just like me. I look up to him and love him,” Travis Woodard said. “But he always tells me that and 50 cents will get me a cup of coffee. I have to work hard and blaze my own path. We pull for each other, and I’m completely proud of what my dad has accomplished, but roping is just something we share. We’re both good at it and have had a lot of fun around it, but we have a relationship outside that.”
Now that Travis is grown and is the one headed to the NFR, it will be Walt’s turn to cheer and support his son as he competes for record money.
“With what the NFR pays this year, everyone there has a chance to win the world title,” Travis said. “I hope I can overcome the typical mistakes of an NFR rookie. I’ve roped long enough and for enough money, I think I’ll handle it well. I’m excited to rope in that building and be a part of that rodeo.”