The 2018 NFR felt a little like a first-time qualification for Derrick Begay, treating each run like it’s the first and last has been the mantra surrounding him. Derrick is competing as fierce as ever, but this year is different. Grateful for the opportunity back, Derrick’s perspective on the NFR and life in general has evolved more than ever.
“The past couple years in December hasn’t been too fun watching from home. Once I got here, [Vegas] it was exciting. Even knowing the routine from being here before, this year I may have been more nervous than I’ve ever been. Even a month out I was thinking about it. I hope I make it again, but I’m trying to cherish every moment while I’m here. Being able to rodeo and be at home has been a dream, but I realize it’s rare to accomplish.”
Though the WNFR may have not gone exactly the way they wanted, Begay and Petska have competed extremely well and struck three go round wins (3rd round, 7th, and 9th). No matter the outcome, Begay trusts it’s part of the Greater Plan.
“There are two steers in my career I wish I could have back and they both were with Cory. One is from the 2014 George Strait short round where I came back high call and one from the 6th round [2018 NFR], the round was easy, and I was at the bottom of the draw. But I believe there was a reason I missed them, I think there were lessons to be learned or maybe it was to make me stronger. You can ask why, or how come, but the truth is we’ll never know why those things happen.”
2018 had more than its fair share of ups and downs for Begay, but with the bad always came some good. One example was being able to be home for the majority of the rodeo season and getting wins with a great partner [Cory Petska] when they needed to, which is what Begay considers “the best of both worlds”. They didn’t even start rodeoing hard until after the fourth of July, and rodeoed almost solely on his one sorrel horse, Swagger, whom he has owned since 2007 and credits his qualification to. The NFR was never really part of the plan for 2018, but the fun part about the year was it happened.
“I’m sure enjoying it. Although I get here, and I realize I’m not doing anything much different than usual. It’s always been a dream and what I’ve come to find out is it’s a very hard one to have come true. It’s very rare to find yourself in the Top 15 of the world standings, especially under the circumstances of our rodeo season this year. I think before I took that part for granted. It gives me confidence, I got to thinking the other day, I must be okay if I made it here, but on the other hand if I can do it…anyone can!”
Begay credits a lot of his maturity of competing to his former partner, the Champ, Clay O’Brien Cooper.
“Champ has a big perspective. He doesn’t ride the highs and lows, he believes he is supposed to win what he is supposed to win and leaves it at that.”
Those that know Derrick well know he is not the evangelical type, not the loudest in the crowd, but know his relationship with his family and foundation in his faith is strong. In a sport that is evolving at what seems the speed of light with faster times, higher fees, and higher-tech equipment, it’s easy to get caught up in the wins, losses and qualifications. It’s easy to lose sight of what the real purpose of the sport is; to honor and celebrate the western way of life and enjoy a sport we are fortunate enough to participate in. Team Roping is something he loves and enjoys, but certainly does not define who he is.
“I want to rodeo and jackpot and be involved for the rest of my life. I’m addicted to competition and that’s something that isn’t ever going away. But as far as the level I’m competing at, I’m not worried about it, whatever comes my way will come. My career is being a cowboy, being around horses, tending to cattle and living the western lifestyle. Plus, I’m always looking for opportunities that go along with it, including the NFR.”
As for Derrick’s future, there are no plans to quit competing anytime soon.
“I’m sitting back and waiting to do whatever he calls on. I’m trusting God more than ever at this point in my life. He knows what I want to do even more so than I do, so whatever he brings I am trusting. I never have prayed to win or to draw the steer I want. I only pray for good health, happiness, and protection and only those things can come from him. It’s always an easier decision to be a bad guy, it takes work to be good and that’s what I’m getting guidance on and working towards every day.”
The NFR is the summit of accomplishment and emotion for everyone who covets the western way of life. Contestants’ wildest dreams both come true in the yellow arena and can also be crushed within seconds. It’s the heartbeat of the western industry pumping life into every artery and vessel associated. In the ten long days of fast-paced craziness, under the bright lights and thumping beats of Las Vegas, it’s nice to be reminded to step back, take a deep breath, and be in the moment. Something we can all learn from Derrick Begay, because after all, life is a series of moments that come and pass, never to be recreated.
We want to wish Derrick and Cory and all the team roping contestants the best of luck in 10th round of the 2018 NFR. We’ve enjoyed watching you compete and live out your dreams and leave you with this bit of wisdom from the article subject himself.
“Life and rodeo are all a journey. When seeking guidance, lay down a prayer. Look out for the opportunities that will be presented some will be good, but also be aware of the bad. Be quiet and listen and you’ll know where you’re being led.” – Derrick Begay