MULVANE — In Kansas, Rocky Patterson is a cowboy legend. His son Cole, 25, is following in his father’s saddle.
Last weekend, both father and son competed in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 2020 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping championship at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane.
Only 15 cowboys qualified for the event, and only two came from Kansas — they both come from the same family. Cole won 13 rodeos and finished the regular season in the No. 1 spot going into the event. Last year, he won Rookie of the Year.
"When Rocky won Rookie of the Year, he (Cole) was only 3 years old," said Jody Carper, the announcer of the NFSR.
Cole, like his father, has roped since he was little. And, also like his father, he grew up with both horses and cattle — always able to practice on the family ranch. But unlike his father, Cole grew up with a steer roping champion — the only one from Kansas.
"I grew up roping at home with dad," Cole said. "Dad has done it to the highest level for a long time. He knew if I didn’t want it myself there was no need of me to do it."
Rocky, who grew up in Harper County between Anthony and Kiowa, qualified for the NFSR 26 times and won four steer roping world championships.
"He’s (Rocky) cowboy tough and cowboy cool," Carper said.
This weekend’s NFSR pot totaled $425,000. Each of the contestants went through 10 rounds. Cole won round 5 and Rocky tied for first in round 2. Trevor Brazile from Decatur, Texas, won the championship for the eighth time. Cole came in third for the round average.
Roping a moving target and then wrestling with the animal is tough work, not unlike what these cowboys must do on the ranch. In 2002, Rocky broke his leg, and four years later he hurt his knee. At the beginning of this week he broke his hand.
"I’m a competitor, and I like to compete," Rocky said. "It’s more of a personal challenge."
As far as having his two sons compete, Rocky said, it was totally up to them. He was supportive, but he told them how it was.
"I tell my kids to buy a set of golf clubs," Rocky said. "There’s a lot more money in it."
But like his dad, Cole loves the challenge. The two cowboys from Pratt plan to stay in the ring. Rocky, who coaches the Pratt Community College Rodeo Team, helps aspiring students with their rodeo accomplishments.
For both men, going to the steer roping championship is like going to the Super Bowl. They both hope to qualify again next year.
"That (steer roping) was all I ever wanted to do," Cole said. "In this sport, you can’t really let your highs get too high or your lows get too low."