Bray breaks records and brings titles to Tarleton


Photo Courtesy of Paden Bray

Paden Bray roping at the St. Paul Rodeo in 2019. Paden and his partner, Erich Rogers, came in first place for Aggregate Team Roping.

Tarleton Rodeo team member, Paden Bray, is currently ranked 11th in the World for Team Roping. In the past year he was named the Resistol Rookie of the year, running away with over $67,000 in winnings.

Bray is a junior general business major, but his main focus is his professional rodeo career. He has been fortunate enough to heel behind the 2017 World Champion Header, Erich Rogers. That, among many other things, have contributed to his success. He also points a lot of credit to his parents, Ken and Billie Bray, who helped him become a big name in the rodeo industry.

Bray has had a rope in his hand ever since he could remember and rodeoing is one of his biggest passions.

“I have always wished I could be a header, but I just turned out to be a better heeler and I have a fantastic partner that just makes it all come full circle,” Bray said.

Since the conclusion of the regular Rodeo Cowboys Association season on, Sept. 30, Bray found out he roped enough world title race points to earn his first trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which will be held at Globe Life Field, in Arlington during December of this year.

“It feels pretty awesome. I couldn’t be more thankful to make it to the finals this year, it has been something I’ve dreamed of for so long. I was only two places out of making it to finals last year and it was so bittersweet, but I finally clinched my place at such a renowned event and I couldn’t be more excited to compete,” Bray said.

“When I first found out about finals being in Arlington, I was kind of bummed because Las Vegas has a certain grandeur about it,” Bray said. “But all in all, I think it will be beneficial because all my family and friends will be able to come out and support me because the venue is close enough.”

For only being a junior in college, and only rodeoing professionally in the PRCA for two years, Bray has already made many accomplishments and created a name for himself.

Bray has been strongly motivated and encouraged by his partner, seeing his success makes Bray push harder for his goals. While Bray ropes for Tarleton State University’s Rodeo Team, he is competing professionally on the PRCA circuit as well.

Tarleton, as many students know, has a renowned rodeo program. With much thanks to Bray, Tarleton men’s Rodeo Team is ranked second in the Southwest Region, for the 2020-2021 men’s team title race with 1,110 points. Bray tied for 13th place in Tie Down Roping with 80.0 points, and ranked fifth in the Team Roping Heeler category with 130 points.

“Rodeo has always been more of a family thing for me, when I was little I looked up to my mom and dad more than anything,” Bray said.

“From a very young age my parents taught me hard work was worth everything. They had full time jobs and my brother and I had school during the day, but as a family we agreed, if my brother and I had the chores done by the time they got home we could ride until bed time every day,” Bray said.

Bray credits his support network for his success.

“Rodeo was always our routine and our hobby. It’s what shaped me into the successful roper I am today. I couldn’t thank them enough. There’s no ‘I’ in what I do, it’s all thanks to the people who support me,” Bray said.

Bray halter broke his horse, Slider, himself and credits his success to their relationship that has grown over the past 12 years.

“I know for a fact he makes me better,” Bray said.

In one of the most recent events, the Vernon College Rodeo on Oct. 1 through Oct. 3, Bray was awarded the men’s all-around title. He finished fourth in the tie-down roping title race and came in second in team roping while partnering with Texas Tech University header Chet Weitz.

Bray honestly never considered college, especially when Rogers asked him to be his partner, he knew he couldn’t balance school and rodeo together. Thankfully, Tarleton Rodeo Teams’ Head Coach, Mark Eakin has known Bray for most of his life and knew he had potential.

“I told coach there’s no way I can make full time rodeo and full-time college work, but then he explained that they could set up my classes to work with my traveling schedule,” Bray said. “If it wasn’t for him doing that there’s no way, I would be in college right now.”

“On top of my family, I’d like to give a big shoutout and a lot of thanks to Coach Eakin and Tarleton State University as a whole for allowing me to do what I love while also getting my education,” Bray said.