STEPHENVILLE — Maddy Deerman realized she was a pretty good roper around the sixth grade
“It’s hard to do roping when you’re really young,” she said. “You need to be a little bigger. When I got to junior high, I was able to up my game a little, to take shots from farther away, to take stronger swings and reach out a little farther.”
The senior geoscience major from Hope, N.M., will represent Tarleton State University at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., next week as the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region breakaway roping reserve champion.
Although she recognized her talent heading into junior high, she had already been exposed to rodeo for several years.
“Pretty much my whole life. I’ve been riding since I could climb on the back of a horse. I grew up on a ranch and my parents rodeoed, as well. I’ve probably been rodeoing since I was 6.”
Her father, a roper himself until a shoulder injury sidelined him, taught young Maddy the finer points of the skill.
“After he got hurt, he kind of channeled his knowledge into making me better,” she said.
She did get better.
At 16 Maddy attended Artesia High School, where she claimed New Mexico state championships in both team roping, as a header, and in breakaway roping. She also won the Best of the Best breakaway competition and placed in the top five in both the National High School Finals and the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla.
After high school she headed to Texas, enrolling in Sam Houston State University and competing for the school’s rodeo team. However, it just wasn’t a good fit.
“I had heard a lot about Tarleton’s rodeo tradition, and that kind of pushed me to go there,” she said. “It is an honor to get to go there. It makes you much more competitive, much sharper to be around all the ropers in Stephenville.”
A year away from graduating with her bachelor’s degree in geoscience, she’s already thinking about career options.
“I’m actually going to stay at Tarleton because I love it so much I don’t want to leave,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m going to work on my master’s in environmental science. After that I’m probably going to end up in either Stephenville or my hometown, depending on if I want to go into the oilfield or stay more on the environmental side.”
Before that, though, she’d like to spend a bit more time roping.
“I just started branching out to the pro rodeos this year. I try to rodeo as much as I can, so I would say that is how I make my living. I would like to try out rodeo for a year or so to see if I can sustain myself.
The first-time CNFR qualifier is practicing for her shot at a collegiate national title, spending time on the mental aspect of the game.
“Each time I back into the box I tell myself, ‘This is my first calf at Casper. This is my second calf at Casper, my third, my fourth.’ I try to set myself up to make exactly the same run I’d make there.”
That should work.
She’s a pretty good roper.