Everyone in life, whatever your hobby or passion, dreams of being a certain individual at the top of his or her game. If you play basketball, you dream of being Michael Jordan. If you golf, you dream of playing just like Tiger Woods. If you're a kid who wants to rope, you might look up to some of us. When I was a kid, I pretended to compete against Leo Camarillo and H.P. Evetts when I practiced. There are different paths and no two end up being exactly the same, but in my opinion there are some basic steps it takes to get to the top.
Nobody goes straight from high school to the pros. It's just not going to happen. I'm not saying you won't have the talent it takes by that time, but you have to have some experience with things like travel, entering and knowing the ropes in general in order to make it. To have any chance at doing that, you'd have to have a veteran leading you around by the ear, like Tee (Woolman) did with Leo (Camarillo) in 1980. Tee's the first to admit that he wouldn't have been a rookie champion without Leo's training and guidance.
I suggest college and amateur rodeos to a kid leaving high school who thinks he wants to rope for a living. The college rodeos are pretty limited, but it's important to get a good education. Such a small percentage of all ropers make it to the big time and have any kind of longevity. Get that education so you have something to fall back on, and get some extra experience at the amateur rodeos on the weekends.