This Sport is Called Team Roping For a Reason…. “For my partner…”

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Bob Freeman and Nick Sartain: Winners of the 2018 #12 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale

So many times, we let our competitive nature get the best of us. We get too worried about “I need to catch. I need to win. I need to be fast.” But this sport is called team roping for a reason. It may sound like a cliche, but there really is no “I” in team.

I recently talked to Bob Freeman and Nick Sartain — the winners of the World Series #12 Ariat Finale in Vegas this past December. During the interview, they both kept mentioning that the other was the reason they were able to tie the run together. It struck me as such a good example of what team roping is supposed to be about… a team.

Bob Freeman, the header of the pair, is a 67 year old rancher between Amarillo and Oklahoma City. He team ropes, judges AQHA and NCHA show, and chases around his nine grandkids.

“It’s busy but it’s all a blessing,” Bob said.

Nick Sartain, 40, heeled at the Finale. He started roping as a heeler but competed in the PRCA as a header. He was Rookie of the Year in 2000 and won the NFR average and the world in 2009.

Nick explained, “I prefer heeling but I was always just better as a header. That’s what I did until September of 2017 when I cut my thumb off. My heeling number was lowered, so I started up again.”

Freeman and Sartain had known each other for a long time before competing together. They first roped together at the Lazy E in the spring of 2018. They placed together at a USTRC roping and continued to partner together throughout the year before entering at the World Series Finale.

In the Ariat Finale, Bob and Nick both commented that they drew four nice steers that made for solid runs.

As Nick told it, “We drew really nice steers. There was no point where the steer was a little tough. We never really had to bow up and try to get stuff done.”

“It was just roping. We got off to a good start, and I didn’t really do much. Nick did all the work back behind me,” Freeman said.

Earlier the day of the #12 Finale, Sartain had roped and placed in the #13 short round. Both said that this had little to no impact on their strategy together.

“My first thought was just not to break out. After that, I wanted to handle him good and give Nick a shot,” Freeman said. “I wanted to give him a good handle and let him clean up, and he did.”

Nick added, “I just went in trying to keep doing what I had already done: ride well and rope well. Bob’s one of my friends and heroes. I just hoped I would ride and rope good for him.”

Both mentioned the third steer as the only tougher run they had that day. When some would blame the situation, their horse or unfortunately, their partner, both Freeman and Sartain took responsibility for the bobble.

“I suppose the third one was the only scary moment. The steer tried hard and we were a little late. I kind of fumbled my slack a little.” – Bob

Nick mentioned the same steer, his perspective slightly different. “Only thing was that on the third steer, my horse didn’t hear the gate bang, so we were tardy at the start. I kind of had to come up a little bit to get down the arena where I wanted to be. Bob kind of waited until I got down there.”

Going into the short round, Bob and Nick were sitting fourth but their spot going in did not change their personal strategies. In the short round, the teams do not get to watch the teams ahead of or after them. For some, this could add pressure or nerves to the situation.

“Going into the short go, I felt like it was done. I felt really good about that. We were guaranteed a check. I don’t think either of us were nervous.”

As Sartain said, “All I was worried about was making the short round cut. After that, the roping pays so good, we just wanted to try to make the last run as good as possible.”

Both said that they weren’t nervous going into the short go because they knew they were guaranteed a check. The pair just wanted to rope well for each other.

Nick admitted, “It can be nerve wracking, but I try not to watch too much. What they do doesn’t matter for what you do. You can only keep track of yourself and your team. My mission is to rope good, ride good and do good for my partner on the steers I drew.”

“I don’t really keep track of other people. I just do my deal,” Freeman said. “I just wanted to go make a solid run and give Nick a good shot.”

They may not have been nervous going in, but the team was incredibly excited to win the Ariat Finale. Even in winning, they were still focused on each other.

“To do some good heeling was really special to me. To be able to do it with a good partner made it extra special,” Nick said.

Bob added, “I didn’t have any expectations other than I planned on winning. I have a good horse that did his part and Nick did his part.”

Freeman and Sartain were both thrilled and content with their outcome.

Bob said, “As a man of faith, I prayed about it a lot and envisioned it. I wanted everyone to do well, I just wanted to do better. It worked out for that show.”

“It gave me some confidence in my heeling that I didn’t have before. It just makes me happy, especially after cutting my thumb off,” Nick said.

The team had a few thank you’s to hand out as well. They prayed before the run and thanked God for their victory. Finally, each teammate thanked the other for “making them look good.”

Throughout their experience at the 2018 World Series of Team Roping Finale, Bob Freeman and Nick Sartain focused on their partnership. Next time you face the temptation to sometimes blame the situation or your partner for a bad run, think back on the success these two had. Focus on your partner and on being the best possible teammate. You might start to see your fortunes change.

– Whitney Green

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