story by Ruth Nicolaus Teige Whetham is a busy man during football and rodeo seasons. The Nebraska High School Rodeo Association member plays ball for […]
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Meet the Member Jasper Neal
story by Ruth Nicolaus
The whole world knows when Jasper Neal is driving by.
That’s because the cowboy, a member of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, has one of the loudest trucks in the county, loud even by his standards.
The eighteen-year-old, a resident of Amherst, Neb., is a team roper, heading for Dawson Doggett.
His rope horse is a gray horse, purchased from his grandfather, Tom Knott, as a four-year-old. Jasper has been roping on the gray for the past three years. Baldie, a gelding, started as a tie-down horse but Jasper switched him to a head horse.
Baldie loves his job. “He likes to rope,” Jasper said. “He loves the sport. You can pasture ride him all day, and when you get him to an arena, he’s loving it. He just likes to go. He has a big motor and he really likes it.”
Jasper is a senior at Amherst School with an easy schedule this year: English, history, marketing and personal finance. He leaves school at 1:45 pm each day, for work release, working at a mechanic shop near Kearney, which was also his summer job. In the summer, he works on motors and engines. In the winter, he helps haul loads of dirt and manure to and from a local feedlot.
He’s budgeted his earnings, half towards roping and the other half for spending. Much of the spending goes towards his 2001 F150, which is bright red. “You can’t miss it,” he said, of his truck. It’s a super-cab four door, his pride and joy. “I put a lot of my hard-earned money into it,” he said.
He’s made several modifications to it, including cutting off the muffler, and then cutting it off even higher, when it wasn’t loud enough. “Now it’s almost too loud,” he admitted. Jasper makes sure it’s shiny and polished. He’s owned the truck since the eighth grade.
One of his role models is his grandpa Tom. Before Tom retired from his job with a public power company, he’d saddle a horse every day and check cows before and after work. Grandpa Tom gave Jasper the “family discount” when he bought the gray horse. Jasper’s grandma (and Tom’s wife) is Karla. Grandpa Tom comes to Jasper’s place at least once a week in the summer to practice with him. In the winter, Jasper drives to Broken Bow, the closet indoor arena he has access to, to practice. His uncle Andy Knott has also helped him become a better roper.
His other grandpa is Tim Neal of Thedford. Grandma Dee Neal passed away a few years ago.
After high school graduation, Jasper will attend WyoTech in Laramie, for their diesel tech program. The program is nine months in length, and he plans on starting in October of next year.
Jasper is a member of his school’s FFA program and is on the honorable mention honor roll.
He and Sage Dieter finished fifth in the state after Nebraska state finals last June, one hole out of qualifying for Nationals.
He has an older brother, Colton, who is 20, and a younger brother, Cooper, who is in the seventh grade.
He is the son of Dan and Lisa Neal.