At 33, Begay tiring of the road

Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series featuring Navajo rodeo heroes Derrick Begay, Erich Rogers, Aaron Tsinigine and Kassidy Dennison.

Submitted | Jaime Arviso
Professional team roper Derrick Begay is scheduled to compete at the Reno Rodeo with partner Clay O’Brien Cooper on Friday night after taking some time off from the PRCA circuit.


The 13-hour drive to Reno, Nevada, last Saturday was Derrick Begay’s longest trip this rodeo season.

To many that may sound unusual at this time of year but for the Seba Dalkai, Arizona, cowboy that was the plan all along.

“I took a year off and I haven’t been doing much,” Begay said last month.

When talking about the present and future, Begay said he still has that competitive spirit but at 33 years old he’s dealing with the weariness of going from one rodeo to the next in the PRCA circuit.

“I’m trying to find the answer that doesn’t exist,” he said. “I am trying to stay home but I know that we’re way behind with a few thousand dollars won.”

In the latest PRCA ranking, Begay had $1,645 won so far in the Turquoise Circuit, which covers the Arizona and New Mexico regions. He has a lot of ground to make up as he trails No. 15 team-roping header Cole Elshere by over $18,000 in the world standings. That coveted spot is important as the top 15 cowboys make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo come December.


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“That’s the position that we are in,” Begay said, speaking for himself and his heeling partner Clay O’Brien Cooper. “We haven’t been going to that many places because my partner likes to stay home and I like to stay home. It’s a hard decision but we really didn’t want to rodeo at the beginning of the year.”

And while he loves to compete, Begay said things are different now. While he was younger the endless days on the road were something he could endure but after the NFR in 2015 he was starting to feel the effects of being on the road too much.

“I love to rodeo but I just want to be around my house a lot more,” he said. “When I was younger I couldn’t wait to get on the road but as you get older it’s different.”

In some ways he sort of pulled the plug last season by joining the Elite Rodeo Athletes. And with eight tour rodeos in the ERA he spent a lot of time at home.

“I usually went to 60 to 75 rodeos a year and that was just pro rodeos,” Begay told the Times last year. “With the ERA it was down to eight, with two separate rodeos at each stop.”

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Categories: Rodeo

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at