By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 23, 2015) — JJ Hampton certainly has roping skill, and there are certainly other ropers with winning mentalities.
But when it comes down to it, when a championship is on the line, Hampton will put her mentality against the skills of anyone else.
“There are girls who probably rope technically better than me, but I just have a mentality. When I set my mind to doing something, I just focus on it and do it,” said Hampton.
She’s one of those champions who seem to just will themselves to victory. Time and time again.
Hampton holds a record 17 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association championships, and this year claimed her fifth United Professional Rodeo Association title and seventh Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association championship.
That’s 29 season championships, the most recent claimed this weekend when Hampton won her latest UPRA title in Sulphur Springs, not long after winning the 2015 CPRA championship in Angleton.
Hampton is as proud of this year’s accomplishments as any she’s earned in a long time.
“I wasn’t even going to rodeo this year, and didn’t even start roping until the end of May,” she said. “One girl had a significant lead on me, like 12 to 14 thousand dollars, and I ended up passing her (last) weekend.
“I just love to compete and rope,” the 17-time world champ added. “More than anything I love to win and that’s what keeps me going.”
JJ even inspired the “Rope Like a Girl,” movement – it’s basically a Twitter hashtag – to change to “#RopeLikeJJ.”
“I thought that was so cool. It definitely fired me up to see that hashtag,” she said.
In an ironic twist, Hampton won her latest championships aboard a horse named ‘Easy,’ purchased from a cowboy dear to her heart named Marty Yates.
Marty, of course, is a nephew to JJ, who was a sister-in-law to Marty’s late father.
“Twenty-one years ago when Big Marty passed away, I was riding his horse named ‘Easy,’” Hampton said. “Now, 21 years later, I’m winning on ‘Easy’ from Little Marty. That’s not a coincidence right there, that’s fate.”
Rodeo these days is a getaway for JJ. She’s a top-selling real estate agent for her mother’s business, Barbara Hampton and Associates Realty, where the same winning mentality guides her success.
“I’m 44 and I can still do this,” she says. “It just shows that if you want something bad enough, no matter how old you are, if you want to do it, you just have to show the will and heart to go after it and it will get done.”
It’s the same mentality she has helped the family instill in ‘Little Marty,’ a tie-down roper entering his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in pursuit of his first world championship.
“Whatever I do, I strive to be the best I can be and find a way to make it work,” she said. “I’m a winner, and I kind of help teach him how to win. You’re not always going to win, I miss a lot. But I have a short memory and I don’t let the losses get me down. I just bounce up and go out there expecting to win the next one.”
Like Marty bouncing back from jerking down his calf in Salinas, Calif. and punching his ticket to the NFR with a $20,000 win at Cheyenne, Wyo.
“I’m pumped for Marty. He’s had a fantastic year and I’m not surprised at all by it because he can win,” Hampton said. “He knows what it takes, and if he keeps his head on right, the sky is the limit for him.”
Even the sky appears to be not enough for JJ.
“I feel like I can still rope with anyone on any given day,” she said. “I believe I can win. And when you believe you can win, in a lot of ways, you already have.”