Blount County’s Connor Coe and Colby Dodson earned the title of Alabama Little Britches team roping champions in May and are headed to Guthrie, Okla. in July for the Little Britches National Championships.
Despite stiff competition from all over the southeast, the teens held the top position in the state all year. They are also tied with another team for first place in the world. It is a very tight race; the top 10 in the world are separated by only one point. Literally, a split second can make or break you in this competition.
Coe, who has been competing for three years, began his rodeo days in ribbon-roping competition, a team event that features a steer, a mounted rider, and a contestant on foot. The timed ribbon-roping event starts with a roper in the box and the runner in a designated spot. When the steer breaks the barrier, the roper must rope the steer and make several loops around the saddle horn with the rope. The runner must then grab the ribbon off the calf’s tail and race back to the box. Coe has since added the calf tie down and team roping events to his competition list.
Dodson, a five-year competitor, earned this year’s title of Reserve All-Round Champion for Alabama Little Britches Rodeo. He is also ranked 26th in world calf roping. The calf-roping event features a calf and a rider mounted on a horse. The goal of this timed event is to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope around its neck, dismount the horse, run to the calf, and restrain it by tying three legs together.
Coe and Dodson have known each other for several years. Dodson’s mother worked for Coe’s father, and through that professional relationship, the boys built a friendship. After initially practicing team roping individually in the same roping pen, they decided it would be to their advantage to become roping partners. Because they live close to each other and use the same roping pen, they are able to practice frequently together. Other competitors do not always have that luxury.
The roping rules are simple. There are three legal head catches – slick horns, half head, and around the neck. The header must have control of the steer when it is turned, and the steer’s head must be bent before the heel loop can be thrown.
In this duo, Coe is the header while Dodson is the heeler. It has definitely worked to their advantage, as they have dominated their field as a team.
This fall, Coe will be a junior at Oneonta High School, but will continue to set his sights on future competitions. He said, “I’ve always been around horses and cattle, but it wasn’t until I was around 10 that I started roping. Colby and I both worked very hard throughout this season, and it’s finally paid off. It’s really a great sport, and I hope to continue roping for a long time.”
Dodson, who will be a senior next year at Southeastern High School, knows that practice and fortitude pay off. There are definitely ups and downs, wins and losses, but Dodson said, “The only thing worse than losing is never trying to win.”
Dodson’s mother said, “Our kids had to struggle getting into the sport. You don’t see this here a lot. There are only a selected few. It’s a good family and Christian event and we are very proud of them.”