Like many team ropers, Jade Corkill can’t remember a time when a rope wasn’t a natural extension of his arm. That extension has helped him become one of the best heelers in rodeo history and given him opportunities that he only dreamed of as a child.
Since that time, he has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo nine times and won three gold buckles in the heeling. He has roped with many of the best in the business and has a legacy of great horses as well. In 2018, he took a break from team roping, spent time with his wife, Haley, and sons Colby and Kelton. It also gave him time for self-reflection and figuring out how to make roping fun again.
He won his first world title in 2012 roping with Kaleb Driggers. That year Chad Masters was the world champion header. In 2013 and 2014, Jade and Clay Tryan roped together and earned the top spot in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings. They continued to rope together until Jade’s self-imposed sabbatical from rodeo.
When he started roping again, it was in the practice pen roping with his mom and sister. He went to jackpots and roped with a lot of different headers. One of his strong suits is his reaction time, and by roping with multiple partners, he got to utilize that. He was also in the market for a new horse.
In 2019, he was rejuvenated and ready to go again. He started the year with Colby Lovell. Then Clay Smith, the reigning world champion heeler called him in the spring and barring any unforeseen circumstance, they will be roping together in the Thomas & Mack Center in December. Clay and his wife had their first child last year and following the family tradition of naming their children after great ropers, they named him Jade O’Brien.
They had a tremendous Fourth-of-July earning the championship at the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede and more than $7,000. They also tied for second at the Cody Stampede earning another $8,599. Jade’s time away from rodeo has given him an appreciation for new opportunities and he is looking forward to the future.
One on One with the Wrangler NFR Contestant – Jade Corkill
Favorite movie: It would be a tossup between True Grit and Lonesome Dove. I don’t watch much TV, but I do like western movies.
Dogs or cats: Definitely not cats. I don’t deal with cats. It’s serious. People that know me don’t even mess with me about cats. They just creep me out.
Favorite dessert: Chocolate chip ice cream.
Favorite card or board game: I like Blackjack – I played this game called guts with the guys and once in a while we get in a game of pitch.
Favorite sport, other than rodeo: Baseball
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: I would be probably be ranching. I don’t really know, maybe I’d try to play pro tennis – If I couldn’t play baseball. I play tennis a lot now. Keeps you moving.
What Super Power would you want to have: Read peoples minds.
Best childhood memory: I remember I used to love branding calves. It was something the whole family participated in. I got to miss school and it was always a day I looked forward to.
Favorite thing you like about Las Vegas: Getting to be there and experiencing the whole thing. Everybody there has dreamed of competing at the NFR since they were little kids. Growing up thinking about being there was a dream. I like the few days we have before the competition starts. It gives me a chance to not take any of it for granted, soak it all in and know what it means. Last year I was there for a couple of days and went to the rodeo as a spectator and that was fun too, but there is nothing like riding into the Thomas and Mack and competing there.
Music: I like all kinds of music, but I don’t listen to the radio much anymore. I listen to a few podcasts. Joe Rogan has some pretty cool people on his and I really enjoy that.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: I’ve been really lucky to have great horses. I rode Ice Cube the longest and he’s the one that I have done the most on.
What belt buckle do you wear and why: I switch around a little. I usually wear the 2014 gold buckle. That year we went in with the lead and won the average and the world titles. We started the journey and finished the course.
Favorite thing about roping with Clay Smith: It’s been really good so far. He’s the whole package — ropes great and has great horses. We are close enough in age we have similar interests and goals. We get along really good.
What’s your strong point in the roping pen: I don’t give up.
What would people be surprised to learn about you: How much I like to play tennis.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young rodeo competitor, what would it be: Don’t get in a hurry and enjoy the process.
If you could live anywhere where would it be: Probably Hawaii. I’ve never even been there, but I’ve heard it’s awesome.
Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter: I use Facebook the most, but have all three.