Sometimes the competition can become all that matters, inspiring a person to go above and beyond… even to ignore favorable judging mistakes. Not the case for high-schoolers Garrett Freedman and Cooper Parsley, who participated in the Texas High School Rodeo finals June 8 to 11.
The two high-schoolers participated in a series of three events and had their times averaged across the three for their final score. Though looking forward to doing their best and hoping to place highly in the competition, the pair met an obstacle in their first round, catching a leg when roping. The incident would normally result in a five second penalty, but the judge didn’t see it happen and didn’t make the call.
“Judge didn’t catch it, didn’t see it. It was really hard to see. I couldn’t tell it. And some people in the stands saw it, and the judge still couldn’t tell it,” Freedman said.
Instead of avoiding the penalty, Parsley approached the judge and told him about the error.
“And then Cooper told the judge, had to tell him several times that he had opened around the leg. And he changed it, came back and added the five seconds to us, so that made us went from 6.99 to 11.99 (seconds),” Freedman said.
After the change, the two participated in two more roping rounds, making a time of 5.02, the second best score in the second round. They also made a time of 5.40 for the third round, giving them fourth place in that round. After the total points were averaged, the pair went on to take second place and win the reserve state championship.
Though at first confused about what had happened, Freedman never questioned Parsley’s initiative to inform the judge about the error.
“I wasn’t sure what he was gonna tell him, because I couldn’t see what he had him roped by, and I was headed out of the arena. I was nearly out of the arena when he told him, and I was glad he did, because he roped him down the leg, and it all worked out in the end,” Freedman said.
Parsley recounted the tale on his Instagram page as well.
“I’m not going to lie. It was a very emotional week at state finals. It was my senior year, and I wanted to make nationals so bad. After the first round, in my mind there was no hope left, but God had other plans. I was so nervous in the first round, I was losing feeling in my body, and I roped a leg and we were 11.99. I talked to a lot of great people after, and we prayed and talked about it.
“The second round felt like a different day. I wasn’t nervous one bit. It felt like I had the steer roped before I even threw my rope. We were a 5.02 to win second in the round and put us 10th coming into the short round. I couldn’t thank God enough. Short round starts. I was a little nervous before, but when I got back in the box it was like it all went away, and God just cleared my mind and said you got this,” Parsley wrote.
“I was kind of confused of what’s going on, and what exactly was going on, but I’m glad he did it. When I found out he had roped him around the leg, I was happy he did it, because you gotta do what’s right. (Integrity) is important. You’ve got to do what’s right all the time,” he added.
The two met each other several years ago and have participated together in various rodeo events. They live three hours apart but take trips together and practice on their own time.
Freeman enjoys roping because of the opportunities for travel and hard work. An incoming high school senior, Freedman plans to attend college after graduation. Parsley graduated in May and will attend Panola College in Carthage, Texas.