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Brocket team roper reaches national finals

Billy Potts and Colten Lefthand placed tenth in team roping at the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Photo contributed.

Billy Potts was following family tradition when he first climbed on a horse and later started roping.
With strong support from his family, Potts roped a spot at the Indian National Finals Rodeo last month in Las Vegas.
With Potts heading and partner Colten Lefthand heeling, the pair roped three of four steers and finished the national finals ranked 10th in the world in team roping.
Heady stuff for the 20-year-old graduate of F.P. Walshe school who lives at Brocket and works for the Piikani Nation CY Ranch.
“The energy of the crowd and all my family there cheering me on was a really special feeling,” Potts said in an interview. “Even the people back home watching on TV and on the Internet is a pretty neat deal.”
Potts was introduced to rodeo at an early age by his grandfather Butch Little Mustache, a past Indian Rodeo Cowboy Association champion who competed in team roping, calf roping, steer wrestling, bull riding and bareback riding.
His grandfather would wake up young Billy early on the mornings of his summer vacation from school to ride and help move cattle.
Little Mustache, who during his own rodeo also qualified for the Indian National Finals Rodeo in both bull riding and team roping, taught his grandson to ride and rope.
“My grandpa is the main reason I’ve made it so far in team roping,” Potts said. “He’s spent endless time with me in the practice pen perfecting my loop and teaching me all his skills. He’s my hero I think he’s the best cowboy around.”
With a family full of rodeo cowboys it was only natural that young Billy would take up the sport. He started team roping at age eight and was soon entering small jackpot ropings.
“But before the team roping all started he (Little Mustache) made sure I knew how to take care and respect a horse,” Potts said. “He made sure I was a cowboy outside of the arena first.”
The past season was Potts’ fifth in the Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. He reached the region finals three times.
This season Potts placed first in the season standings with 62.5 points, to go along with just over $3,000 in earnings, to secure a spot to the Indian National Finals Rodeo on Oct. 22-28.
Competing in Las Vegas for a world title has been Potts’ goal ever since he started going to Indian rodeos.
This season was the first time Potts and Lefthand, who is from Morley, had competed as a team
“Colten and myself kind of teamed up by fate,” Potts explained. “We both didn’t have a partner for the first rodeo of the year and we said we would enter together and try it out at the first one. We placed and made money at the first one so we said let’s stick together this season and see what happens.”
The two cowboys formulated a game plan to be aggressive and focus on one steer at a time when they arrived in Las Vegas.
“We weren’t looking at it as a whole, because that is too overwhelming,” Potts said. “We kept it simple and said we would rope the way we roped all year — one steer at a time.”
Potts and Lefthand were happy to rope three of their four steers on their first trip to the national finals to finish 10th in the world.
A highlight came in the final round when they roped a steer in 4.96 seconds to earn a third-place paycheque in the fourth round.
“Placing in the round down there is tough because those boys rope really good and some are past Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association champions as well,” Potts said. “For Colten and myself to be able to rope against them and make money is a huge confidence booster. Now we know we can rope and beat anyone at any level.”
Competing at the Indian National Finals Rodeo provided the two cowboys with valuable experience they will carry with them in their rodeo careers.
“At the finals I learned that no matter how big the situation may be, it’s still just roping a steer,” Potts said. “No matter how many people are watching it’s just a steer that I need to catch.”
Potts said team roping is a passion and he respects the top ropers, such as Derrick Begay and Aaron Tsinigine but learned the top ropers are no different than anyone else in that they are human too.
Potts said his mother Tess is critical to his success in rodeo, serving as an informal agent who makes sure he’s entered at all the rodeos and taking care of behind the scenes.
Potts also credited Jay Louis who loaned Max, his “awesome” heading horse, to the young cowboy.
Potts had plenty of other help to get to Las Vegas through sponsors such as the Yellowhorn family, Troy Knowlton, Piikani Youth and Education Foundation, High Country Western Wear as well as people who bought tickets for his fund-raiser.
Potts also thanked family members who have supported and cheered him on, including his grandfather Butch Little Mustache.
“I really appreciate everyone’s support,” Potts said, adding he does not take God’s blessings for granted. “It means a lot.
Competing at the Indian National Finals Rodeo is not the end of the trail for the yung cowboy.
“The next step in my rodeo career is to get my professional card and try and make the Canadian Finals Rodeo,” Potts said. “I want to take my roping to the next level and compete against the best guys.”

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