New cowboy in town: Decatur teen wins Junior NFR team roping championship

Ty Woods, 15, of Decatur won the Junior NFR team roping championship in Las Vegas last week after being paired with 10-year-old heeler Michael Calmelat of Arizona. Ty Woods, 15, of Decatur won the Junior NFR team roping championship in Las Vegas last week after being paired with 10-year-old heeler Michael Calmelat of Arizona. Photo by Messenger photo by Joe Duty
December 22, 2018

As one Decatur roping legend rode into the sunset of his career after claiming his 14th championship buckle at the NFR last week, a new fresh-faced roper from Decatur rose with an NFR championship buckle of his own.

Following in Trevor Brazile’s footsteps, Decatur freshman Ty Woods, 15, burst onto the scene, winning the 2018 Junior NFR Open Team Roping championship with 10-year-old Arizona roper Michael Calmelat.

Woods and Calmelat had never met, much less roped steers as a team. But on the biggest stage in Las Vegas, things just clicked between Woods and the roper five years his junior.

“I got blindsided with Michael,” Woods said. “Hadn’t heard of him, so when we got the back number I was like, ‘Aw heck, I’m roping with this little kid in the open? No way!’ Ended up we were on our first steer, and I was like, ‘Dang. OK.’ This could work. We just made it work.”

They started fast, earning a 5.83-second time to put them in second place in the first round.

From there, Woods and Calmelat kept stacking clean runs as the field stumbled under pressure.

After the final gate opened and the last of the dust settled following the fifth round, Woods and Calmelat beat the best junior ropers in the world, winning the open average title.

“I was nervous,” Woods said. “By the time we caught our fourth-round steers, I figured out that this kid could heel. He could heel good. There was a lot of pressure on me. We just were smart about it and made businessman runs.

“Afterwards, I was just shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “We were a 10 team. The odds of that aren’t good. We were roping against 17-year-olds that could really rope.”

The path to a championship started two years ago. After a venture into motocross racing with his older brother, Ryan Woods, Ty broke two bones in his arm.

Following the injury he opted for a different kind of horsepower, deciding roping steers in the arena was the safe option.

“I’ve never been hurt roping steers,” Woods said.

At his family’s ranch, Woods can usually be found with a rope in his hands and a grin on his face. His determination to be the best is like a tick. When he’s not on his horse, Grey, he’s repeatedly making rope tosses in the barn.

He can’t stop. He wants to be the best and join his role models who have created a path from Decatur to the world stage – like Trevor, Tuff and Roy [Cooper]. And Willy Gasperson, who’s taught him from the start.

“Trevor Brazile is an amazing guy and gives all his glory to God,” Woods said. “It’s just amazing to watch him do everything he’s done. I want to follow in his footsteps and just be successful like he has been. Willy, he’s helped me do everything. He’s like a father.”

Woods and Catcher Gasperson, Willy’s son, became close friends and team roping partners. They’ve trained together for the past two years and hoped to win the junior team roping title at NFR this year after winning Region Three last year and going to the state finals.

But the team got knocked out, and Ty had to go it alone, eventually roping five steers with the 10-year-old from Arizona to clinch that title.

Tony Woods, Ty’s dad, has been learning from Willy, too, as he coaches his son. He roped growing up but had to hang up his saddle after high school to pursue a career.

Tony said his son has what it takes to go pro.

“I think he’s been bit; he’s been bit by the bug,” Tony said. “That’s my hopes and dreams for him. It’s his. Our job is to back and hopefully fulfill that for him and make that road as easy as possible. He’s coming after all the pros.”

“It’s heartwarming to see it all come together,” he added.

Entering this year, Woods said his goal was Vegas. And though it took an alternate route through the open, he accomplished it.

With his world title accomplishments under his belt now, his focus is as strong as ever – to go pro and be the next cowboy out of Decatur.

He’s earned an NFR buckle, but he wants more.

“I want to have my name out there; I want to be someone,” Woods said. “I want to be someone that people can look up to and people can say, ‘Oh that’s Ty Woods. He’s a good guy; he can rope.’ I want to be a 9, 10, whatever I can be. It will take hard work and dedication. But I love it.”