Back the Blue

Ruth Nicolaus
for Tri-State Livestock News
Four ERA athletes (from left to right Trevor Brazile, Charly Crawford, Jake Barnes, and Patrick Smith) present signed back numbers and blue shirts to the Dallas Police Department during the Sat., Nov. 13 performance of the ERA Finals. Photo by ERA

Former police officer Oscar Jimenez was in seventh heaven last week.

The amateur team roper found himself roping with world champion Jake Barnes, and winning the heeling division of the Elite Rodeo Association’s “Back the Blue” Pro-Am team roping held November 12 at the Dallas, Texas Fair Park Coliseum.

The event featured fifty professional team ropers including the likes of Barnes, Trevor Brazile, Patrick Smith, Charly Crawford, Derrick Begay, Allen Bach, Clay O’Brien Cooper, and others, matched up with fifty amateur ropers. It was held as a fundraiser for the families of the five Dallas police officers killed during the police shootings on July 9.

Amateur ropers were randomly drawn to their professional header or heeler, and teams roped in two rounds, with the fastest fifteen teams making it to the short round. Amateurs won a variety of prizes: Yeti Coolers, Truth Saddlery saddles, Cinch apparel, Classic equine merchandise, a Chris Cox team roping clinic, buckles donated by Jessie Jaymes Silversmiths, and more.

Jimenez, a former police officer who now works for a security company and lives in Quitman, Texas, was the first heeler to sign up for the roping. He had heard about the Back the Blue fundraiser and knew he had to be part of it. Entry fees for the event were $500 a roper, with one hundred percent of the fees going to the fund.

He was paired with seven-time world champion Jake Barnes, and the two did well, winning the first round with a time of 5.54 seconds, the second round in 10.77 seconds, and the short round with a time of 7.47 for a total of 23.78 on three.

He was happy to help with the cause. A former Los Angeles police officer, he served fifteen years before moving to Texas, where he now works in the security business. He also served as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshall, helping with security during the torch run for the 1996 Olympics, which were held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jimenez grew up in Marana, Ariz., riding bulls and saddle broncs. In 1993, he was the saddle bronc riding champion for the World Police Fire Games, held in Colorado Springs, Colo. While in California, he competed in the National Police Rodeo Association and began to team rope a bit.

Roping in honor of his friends and partners who have been killed while in the line of duty was special to him. He emailed Sami Jo Smith, the ERA’s event marketing manager, the following lines: “By the way, thanks for supporting my brothers in blue. It hits close to my heart. I’m a former Los Angeles police officer and have lost many of my friends and partners.”

The Six D Cattle Co. donated $500 to each of the winning amateur team ropers to cover their entry fees. Jimenez chose to add $500 of his own money and donate it to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.

J.P. Powell of Decatur, Texas, with his heeler Jade Corkill, won the amateur header championship. The two champs, Jimenez and Powell, and their families, were invited to the Sat., Nov. 12 evening performance of the ERA Finals, during which the Dallas Police Deputy Chief Jessie Reyes, the Dallas Police Reserve Deputy Chief Steve Brody and Dallas Police Officers Arnold Rodriguez and Billy Taylor were honored in the arena during the rodeo. The four men held the five buckles that were given to the fallen officers’ families, and were presented with back numbers and blue shirts signed by ERA athletes. Five team ropers presented the officers with the gifts.

The $25,000 raised from the ERA’s Back the Blue Pro-Am Team Roping went to the Assist the Officer Foundation, an organization with the Dallas Police Department that provides financial assistance to officers who are facing loss of income due to a serious injury, life-threatening illness or other catastrophic event. Immediate assistance is also available to an officer’s family in the event of the death of an active officer.

The idea for the Back the Black Pro-Am originated with team roper and ERA athlete Charly Crawford, who talked it over with ERA interim president and bareback rider Bobby Mote. They realized the potential a pro-am team roping had, and noticed that there are very few if any pro-ams in the sport. “Not many people utilize what team roping can do,” Crawford said. “A lot of people would enjoy roping with the best guys in the world, and nobody uses it for a cause.

“It was a great cause,” Crawford said. “It’s great that the ERA is able to do these things and give back, which is what I think makes every organization great. I’m proud to be part of it.”

And for Jimenez, it was an experience he’ll never forget. “It was a wonderful day and a wonderful night,” he said. “They presented the saddles and buckle to us in a big presentation, and Jake (Barnes) was there, and he signed my saddle. It was big. We were on the jumbotron for a long time. It was awesome. I feel all the years riding roughstock, I should have been roping,” he laughed. “Now everybody wants to rope with me.”

“This is like winning the world.”