Jul 9, 2021
With 12 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® qualifications and four world titles to his credit, it would seem that Tuf Cooper might be thinking about things away from the rodeo arena.
The truth is, his full focus is in rodeo, he thinks about little else, he still has major rodeos to win and new goals to accomplish. Like many of today’s competitors, he is a student of the game, watching videos, listening to advice from others and always looking for ways to improve.
That determination had him as the rodeo contestant that won the most over the Fourth-of-July run known as Cowboy Christmas in 2021. He won the Cody (Wyoming) Stampede on the Fourth, with a time of 8.3 seconds, good for $10,671. He collected checks at five of the six rodeos he competed in and when it was all said and done added $31,255 to his earnings.
That pushed him to the top of the world standings and gets him closer to his goal of a fifth world title. He is nearly assured a trip to Las Vegas in December to compete at his 13th NFR.
Tuf is the youngest son of legendary roper and eight-time world champion Roy Cooper. His rodeo roots run deep on both sides of his family and one of his favorite times competing was at the 2013 NFR. Not only was Tuf there, he was competing with his older brother Clif Cooper and first cousin Stetson Vest. Then as soon as the tie-down roping was over, they hurried to watch the barrel racing as Tuf’s sister Shada, Trevor Brazile’s wife, was in the field.
He has also competed at rodeo’s championships with his oldest brother Clint and his uncle, Stran Smith, Shari’s brother. Tuf is closing in on $3 million in career earnings and he is on pace to accomplish that by the end of July if his success continues.
In 2017, he won the all-around cowboy buckle, and made one of the most memorable acceptance speeches ever in the Thomas & Mack Center. Tuf asked his girlfriend, Tiffany, to marry him. Now they travel across the country as husband and wife.
One on One with the Wrangler NFR Contestant 4X World Champion Tuf Cooper
Favorite movie: I watch any good movie and there are so many great ones it would be really hard for me to pick just one. “Tombstone” and “Lonesome Dove” are really hard to beat.
Dogs or cats: I’m cool with cool cats, but I’m down with dogs. We have a miniature schnauzer named Jasmine that goes with us. Tiff had her mom, Pepper, we bred her and kept one of her puppies.
Favorite dessert: Bananas Foster or carrot or red velvet or German chocolate cake. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but its hard to turn down any one of those. Well, there’s also pecan pie. Any of those homemade family recipes are hard to turn down. It really depends where we are eating.
Favorite card or board game: Tiffany’s grandparents made up a card game. It’s called tens – it’s addictive and is the most made up card game ever. We play it all the time. We play with the grandparents every chance we get and it is so much fun playing with them.
Favorite spectator sport, other than rodeo: I enjoy watching a rodeo. It’s a lot of fun. Got a hotel room last night, turned SportsCenter on and realized I hadn’t watched it in years. I used to follow other sports, but if I’m watching anything now it’s a rodeo.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: Honestly, I have no idea. I would go wherever my heart led me. I like competing, but if I wasn’t in rodeo maybe I would be okay not competing. I’d have to do some real soul searching. I love horses, competing, traveling, and meeting people. Everything that we are doing right now is some of the coolest things we ever get to do. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d have to figure it out and whatever it would be I’d try to be the very best at it.
Best childhood memory: When I was a kid, I always wanted to go. We’d be traveling and going to rodeos as a family. Whenever I didn’t get to go, I would get emotionally sick. Tiffany and I drove through Yellowstone yesterday (July 6) and I had memories of doing that with my parents. Now that I get to go back and visit these places, it brings back those memories. I hope to be doing the same with my kids one day.
Best thing about being married: I think I’ve grown as a person.
Tea or coffee: Community coffee – every morning and all day long.
Favorite thing about Las Vegas: It turns to a cowboy town during the two weeks around the NFR and there is no place like it in the world. The energy and focus is around rodeo in the city of Las Vegas during the NFR.
Music: My playlist is strange, basically everything besides heavy metal. We listen to music audio books and an occasional podcast.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: I’ve been fortunate to ride some really great horses in my career and it would be impossible to pick just one. I got to ride Pearl, one of the best horses ever. I got to exercise Topper as a kid, but never roped on him. I rode Destiny, the horse Stran rode to win the world. They all teach you things, like what it is supposed to feel like when you get a great one. I rode Reata (the horse Shane Hanchey won the world on in 2013) when I was 16 years old. I got on him a lot and never broke the barrier and never missed a calf.
What champion buckle do you wear and why: My all-around buckle.
What’s your strong point in the tie-down roping: Hopefully everything. Sometimes, the older guys were dogging us for working out. They would make more practice runs and practice harder and longer than we do. My dad was pretty strict about some of the fundamentals when I was learning and then he let me be creative with others and try different things. I learned a lot from him, and then I am always looking for ways to be better.
If you could give advice to a young rodeo competitor, what would it be: Have fun and enjoy every experience.
If you could live anywhere where would it be: I’m a Texan through and through. I was born there, live there, and can’t imagine a permanent residence anywhere else, except maybe 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (kidding). We are up north all summer long and I sure do enjoy seeing other parts of the country. Tiffany is from South Dakota, so we get to spend time there too.
Most memorable rodeo win: Winning the all-around at Cheyenne. I still question whether that was real.