Sons of former world champions headlined the list of 2008 PRCA Rookies of the Year, presented by American Cowboy Coffee and Montana Silversmiths.
Like his father Roy had done a generation earlier, Tuf Cooper made a dazzling debut in professional rodeo in 2008, not only becoming the first tie-down roping rookie since 1996 to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but earning $90,604 to win the Overall Rookie of the Year Award-most money won by a rookie.
"This is awesome," Cooper said. "Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to rope, make the Finals and win a rookie award. It was pretty hard to do. Adam Gray had a pretty big lead to overcome. It was tough."
At the start of June, Cooper was in 30th place in the Crusher Rental PRCA World Standings, about $20,000 back of Gray. But he strung together big wins at the Farm City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano and the River City Roundup in Omaha, Neb.-the third round of the Ariat Playoffs-to launch himself into the top level of the sport.
Roy Cooper is an eight-time world champion and member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. He was the rookie of the year in 1976 and went on to win his first world title that year.
Joining Cooper, who was also the tie-down roping rookie of the year, were Trell Etbauer, Goodwell, Okla., (all-around); Jared Smith, Ranger, Texas (bareback riding); Zack Cobb, Pampa, Texas (steer wrestling); Joel Bach, Millsap, Texas (team roping-heading); Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, Utah, (team roping-heeling); Kaleb Asay, Powell, Wyo., (saddle bronc riding); Douglas Duncan, Huntsville, Texas (bull riding); and Tim Abbott, Midland, Texas, (steer roping).
Trell Etbauer is the son of Robert and Sue Etbauer. Robert was the world champion saddle bronc rider in 1990 and 1991, and Trell's uncle is five-time world champion saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer. Trell's uncle Dan was a pick up man at the Wrangler NFR this year and Robert, Billy and Dan all qualified for the Wrangler NFR in the saddle bronc riding from 1994 to 1997. Trell finished the year with earnings of $42,965 competing in the steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and tie-down roping. He also won the 2008 Linderman Award, along with rookie all-around honors.