story by Kailey Pickering After pursuing a passion for English jumping for four years, Grace Barnett turned back to her love of rodeo when her […]
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Meet the Member: Cort McFadden
story by Lily Weinacht
Cort McFadden is at home with a rope in his hand, whether it’s in pursuit of a calf, or clenched in his fist during a six second steer ride. The 12 year old from Coleman, Texas, is currently leading the boys breakaway roping in the AJRA, while trailing first place by one point in the tie-down roping. He’s won several titles in the association, including year-end reserve champion in the steer riding and winning the average in the same event in 2015. He’s making his first trip to the TJHSRA state finals this month after qualifying in the breakaway and team roping. “Rodeo is what I like to do, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else!” says Cort.
Rodeo has thrown its loop over two generations of McFaddens, starting with Cort’s dad, Cory McFadden. He competed in the AJRA growing up, winning the World and AJRA NFR titles in the bareback and bull riding in 1994, sharing the awards ceremony with Trevor Brazile, who’d won the all-around and several of the roping events. Cory went on to ride bulls professionally in the PRCA and PBR, and 22 years later, Cort is following his dad’s bootprints into the chutes and roping box. “I’ve always pushed Cort to rope,” says Cory. “As a father, I’ve never pushed him to become a bull rider, but he’s done well with it, and if he has a passion for it, I’m more than willing to help. I coach him on a daily basis, and it’s been lots of fun.”
Cort additionally competes in the ribbon roping and tie-down roping in the AJRA, though steer riding and breakaway come in first on the list of favorites. “My dad rode bulls, so I admire that – I have videos of when he rode that I like to watch,” Cort explains. “And I love riding my horses in the breakaway.” These include Sweet Pea, the mare that taught Cort to rope, and his new horse, Coco. “She’s my upgrade, and I’m getting used to her. I head and heel, but for junior high I’ve been heading for Jet Barrett, plus I rope with my dad at home and local ropings.” The family dog, Sweetie, is often in the truck cab as well.
The arena is the core of the McFadden’s home outside of Coleman. Cort’s step-brother, Lane Kennedy (17), also ropes in the AJRA, while their five-year-old sister, Molly McFadden, started running barrels. Their other step-brother, Blake Kennedy (ten), runs the chutes for Cort when he practices roping or steer riding, while his step-mom, Jodie Kennedy, is in charge of videos. Cort also has two older sisters, now married, Nicole and Jaylynn, who come with his mom, Leigh Ann, to watch Cort compete.
Though Cort practices daily, he does enjoy a ramble down the road on his horse. “We live about 20 miles from Coleman, and I love it out here,” Cort describes. “I like the land we have – there’s quite a few places to ride.” The landscape also lends itself to four wheelers and air soft gun wars – two of Cort’s favorite ways to pass the time between rodeos. The rest of his time is spent at Coleman ISD, where Cort is a sixth grader. Science is a favorite class, and Cort also played football and baseball earlier in the school year.
With summer break on the horizon, however, the pull of rodeo is strong as ever. “I’d like to keep rodeoing as I get older and go to Tarleton on a rodeo scholarship,” says Cort. “I’ve won the breakaway and steer riding at junior rodeos around here, but this year, my goal is to win a saddle in the AJRA.”