story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
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Meet the Member Jacob Wallace
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Jacob Wallace’s path to the announcer’s stand has come by way of the arena.
He grew up always wanting to be a cowboy. His dad had horses growing up but focused on other sports later in life. His grandfather was a doctor, so the family wanted a young Jacob to follow those footsteps into the medical profession. He had different ideas.
“The first movie I ever watched I believe was 8 Seconds, and it just had me hooked,” Jacob, now 26, describes and adds, “I just always wanted my life to revolve around animals, around horses and cattle, and be a cowboy and rodeo.”
So Jacob started out on calves and steers and tried bull riding off and on as he got older, but he ended up gravitating to roping.
“My dad started team roping when I was probably 10 years old, and I would always go to the practice pens with him and take ropes off. Next thing you know I was getting asked to get on their horses and rope a few steers and started roping.”
Eight years ago, Jacob had started to take an interest in announcing when an opportunity arose. He was entered in the rodeo in the bull riding.
“My roommate at the time was a bullfighter, and he was fighting at the event. Well the guy he was working for his announcer bailed on him or had something come up, and he couldn’t be there, and I just happened to take my laptop with me because this was before I-Phones, and I got a call.”
The call was from the stock contractor who offered Jacob the job, and the rest is history. “I didn’t have any sound equipment. I had nothing but a laptop. I started out on borrowed sound equipment,” he laughs.
“Now eight years later I’m traveling to five different states on my schedule this year. It’s just a true blessing, and I’ve had a lot of people help me along the way.” Some of those people that Jacob wants to thank are contractors Jimmy Morris, Cline Hall, Kevin Meeks and Tommy Rand.
Last year, Jacob co-announced the Arkansas Cowboys Association finals and has stepped into his new role as their Labor Director.
“I gather sponsors and make sure we have the right people in position for our finals, from announcers and back pen help and guys that are pulling the bucking chutes, to secretaries,” he says of the role.
What he loves most about rodeo is the camaraderie and the atmosphere.
“You see cowboys and cowgirls competing against each other week in and week out, but they’re always there to help each other, whether it’s pull a bull rope or allow a bulldogger to borrow a horse, team ropers pushing their steers, barrel racers going over the ground. And the crowd, I love entertaining people.”
For Jacob that means being professional and serious about the job as announcer but using humor and being focused on making sure everyone is having fun. “If I can look into the crowd, and they’re smiling and singing along to the music, the cowboys and cowgirls are having fun too, that’s what makes it worth it to me.”
This is the 40th year for the ACA, and Jacob is fond of his experience in this association as both a contestant and personnel. “I’ve always liked the events. I’ve always liked the stock contractors. They have good livestock. They put on good rodeos. They get good money for the contestants to compete for. The crowds are always good. I love being a part of the ACA,” he says and adds, “I’m born and raised in Arkansas. I love my state. I love traveling all over going to new towns and bringing this association to people, and we keep growing every single year. It’s just great. I love my association,” and with Jacob’s skills over the loudspeakers, rodeo fans are sure to love it too.