Tucson Rodeo: Parsons rebuilds confidence

2013-02-23T00:00:00Z 2013-02-23T17:20:56Z Tucson Rodeo: Parsons rebuilds confidenceZack Rosenblatt Special To The Arizona Daily Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It takes 1,056 miles to get to Caldwell, Idaho, from Tucson, but Gary Williams was happy to make the trip.

The general manager of La Fiesta de los Vaqueros knew Marana's Joseph Parsons would win the tie-down roping at the 2007 Caldwell Night Rodeo, and he wanted to be there.

Heck, winning is in Parsons' blood.

Joseph Parsons' father, Joe, was a four-time National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping qualifier and Joseph is one of the best in that event now. At the Tucson Rodeo on Friday, Parsons completed his tie-down in 13.4 seconds, the fifth-best time of the day.

"The Parsons family," Williams said, "a lot of people refer to them as the first family of rodeo in Tucson."

Parsons' uncles, Cutter and Clay, and his sisters, Emily and Erin, all carved out successful careers in the rodeo, too.

So back in 2007, Williams watched in Idaho as Joseph Parsons captured "maybe the biggest rodeo he's ever won."

"Joseph didn't know I was there," Williams said. "After he made his winning run, I got down behind the chutes and first congratulated his Dad. Then, Joseph came up and said, 'Gary, what the heck are you doing here?' I told him 'I came to watch you win this.' And he did."

Parsons, a Marana High School graduate, just missed out on qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo that year. The top 15 earners make it, and he was 16th.

At that point, he'd come a long way from a kid that refused to attend a rodeo as a child.

In the Parsons family, the rodeo is a part of life. They live it, they breathe it, but Joseph wanted no part of it.

"When I was young," Parsons said, "I just wanted to be a cowboy."

Parsons liked staying home, working with cattle, spending time at the family's ranch. His dad was a four-time National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping qualifier, but it didn't matter.

"My dad couldn't make me go to a rodeo," Parsons said. "There'd be times when we'd have to leave I'd refuse to go. I hated going to rodeos, I hated it. I just wanted to be home. I just hated leaving the house."

When he was 12, however, Parsons went to his first rodeo and met tie-down legends Fred Whitfield and Trevor Brazile.

Parsons was hooked. Now, years later, his decision came full circle.

He was the 15th-highest earner and qualified for the 2010 NFR in Paradise, Nev. , the biggest stage in rodeo, the pinnacle of the sport.

"It's like the Super Bowl," Williams said.

But Parsons had a tough time under the spotlight.

"He did not do well," said John Marchello, the faculty adviser and coach for the University of Arizona rodeo team, and a longtime friend of the Parsons family.

"He did not draw well, and when he did draw he had a hard time handling."

Added Parsons: "I was just trying to win too hard."

After that, Parsons was in a funk. In 2011 he finished 33rd in the world standings, and 31st a year later.

"I've been trying the last two years to get back and it just hasn't happened," Parsons said. "I haven't roped as well as I can the last two years. No excuses, I just haven't performed well."

So in the fall, Parsons decided to take some time off.

Well, he practiced roping every night with his father and a friend, but he didn't compete for two months.

"Everybody thinks it's a physical sport," Williams said. "It's not. It's 90 percent mental, and if you're head's not right you need to do whatever you can do to get it right."

Parsons, now 28, said he needed to recharge his batteries and rebuild his confidence. He likened his situation to a boxer.

"You see a boxer ... he trains in a little, itty-bitty gym that has nothing to it, and he's a great fighter, Parsons said. "Then, he gets into a deal where he has state-of-the-art equipment. In the ring, you watch him and he's the same fighter, but he thinks he's better.

"So," in Parsons' case, "it's kind of like, if you're working hard at it, and you feel like you're getting better, I think there's improvement," he said.

Parsons wants to get back to the national stage, sure, but he said he doesn't plan to rodeo very far into his 30s.

He wants to be a businessman, an entrepreneur. He has an associate degree in business from Central Arizona College, after all.

Parsons might not have envisioned a life at the rodeo when he was a kid, but even when he eventually calls it quits and delves into the business world, he'll still always be a roper.

"I want to do this while I'm young and while I can," Parsons said. "But, I love it. I love rodeoing.

"I'll always rope. I'll be an old man, hopefully, still roping."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Latest Hansen video

More videos

Pac-12 projections: Part 1

Ryan and Greg break down the Pac-12 South to commemorate media days.


Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...