(SHAWNEE, Okla.) When your grandma is Betty Roper, the winningest barrel racer in the International Professional Rodeo Association, the announcer often mentions her when introducing you to the crowds. Jayco Roper has grown accustomed to hearing the announcers rave about his grandma and her six world titles as he is getting things just right in the chutes.
The Roper name has a longstanding rodeo history. As with many fourth-generation Oklahoma cowboys, rodeo surrounds Jayco on all sides. Jayco and his sisters, Jaylie, 23, and Jernie, 8, have had plenty of examples set before them, as their dad J.W. competed as a team roper for many years. Besides their grandma Betty’s successful barrel racing and horse training career, their grandpa Jimmy Roper was a well-known and accomplished steer wrestler. Jaylie competed at the IFYR in barrel racing when she was younger and has trained some great barrel horses; and Jernie lives, eats and breathes barrel racing.
Jayco started his rodeo career riding sheep at 3 years old and stepped up the rough stock ladder to calves, steers and mini broncs when he was 6 years old. Although he comes from a family of mainly timed-event competitors, Jayco had a passion for rough stock from the very beginning at the Ward Rodeo Company rodeos he would compete at. Jayco’s first year in the Oklahoma Junior High Rodeo Association led him to a national title as a seventh grader, when he left the NJHSFR in Des Moines, Iowa, as the 2015 National Champion Bareback Steer Rider. Leading up to that, he had won the Oklahoma bareback steer champion title and champion rookie cowboy title. Jayco placed fourth in 2016 at the NJHSFR. He stepped up to bareback horses when he was about 14, and soon he was riding with all the big boys on full size broncs. Jayco won the 2017 Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association Champion Bareback Rider title his freshman year.
Jayco is now 17 years old and has competed at the International Finals Youth Rodeo for the past two years. He resides in Oktaha, Oklahoma, and is homeschooled through Epic Charter school.
Learning the bronc riding ropes has been easier with the help of neighbor Justin McDaniel. Justin competed in the IFYR in 2003 and 2004, winning the all-around championship in 2004 after topping the earnings board with money earned in both bareback and bull riding. He was inducted into the IFYR Hall Of Fame in 2014.
“Justin has been a huge help to me over the years,” said Jayco. “He is always there to help fix my rigging and give me advice; I really look up to him. And, I never ride a horse without praying to God first.”
Jayco keeps up a very busy schedule, competing in the American Cowboys Rodeo Association, Cowboys Regional Rodeo Association and the All Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“My dad is my big-time manager; he takes care of everything,” said Jayco. “He schedules what rodeos I’m entering, and I hop and don’t ask too many questions.”
Jayco spends much of his time practicing on his spur board, preparing for rodeos and goes to the gym at least three times each week.
“I like to run and do a lot of core work and powerlifting at the gym,” said Jayco.
He does make some time for fly fishing occasionally and enjoys going fishing for trout with his bulldogger friend, Shylo Glover.
Jayco’s dad works for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and his mom works as a schoolteacher at the Oklahoma School for the Blind. J.W.’s mom, Betty, lives next door to the family and at 70 years old, is still riding every day.
“Grandma Betty is still healthy and gets around like a 40-year-old,” said Jayco. “She’s never sitting down unless they’re eating lunch.”
Betty has helped both granddaughters with their barrel racing and imparted much of her training knowledge on the girls as they work with her.
“The IFYR is a great competition where you can win a lot of money and our family has a lot of history with both the IPRA and IFYR,” said Jayco. “I’d like to win as many world champion titles as she has so that one day, they may be talking about me when my grandson is getting ready in the chutes.”