Courtesy of Trystin Hooper
The aroma of livestock fills the air, cowboy boots occupy the grounds, and the lyrics of Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” blasts through the arena’s speakers. This is the ideal atmosphere to find one of Maui’s top youth rodeo competitors: Seabury Hall sophomore Trystin Hooper.
Growing up in a family already familiar with horses and the ranch life, riding became almost second nature for Hooper, who began riding at the early age of four years old.
“My whole family rode horses while we were growing up, but I’m the only grandchild in my family that does rodeo,” Hooper said.
Even though rodeo was foreign to most of his family members, Hooper’s curiosity and willingness to try new things led him into discovering his passion.
“The intensity and the adrenaline you get once you and your horse step into the box to chase after the steer is indescribable. But the most important reason why I love rodeo is because I have always loved horses and how smart and strong they are,” said Hooper, who participated in his very first rodeo at age six.
Hooper knew the minute he placed second on the barrels and poles at his first show that he had found a sport worth sticking to. Shortly after coming across this new found love of his, Hooper decided to begin roping during eighth grade. He continued roping for only four months until he started team roping, which is what he currently practices along with barrel racing.
Hooper’s love for rodeo is always shown by his bright smile and dedication to the sport. Despite the hardships that come along with the commitment to any passion, Hooper knows that the joy gained from doing what he loves is worth the effort.
“The feeling of me and my horse winning or placing in rodeos makes me feel amazing. Not only that, but it shows that my hard work and practices with my horse really do pay off in the end,” he said.
To prepare for his competitions, Hooper spends six to eight hours a week devoting his time to practices in the arena.
Hooper’s lifelong rodeo coach, Brad Apo, has greatly influenced and inspired Hooper to continue to pursue the sport. “Trystin is a dedicated rider. His best attributes are his respectful attitude, competitiveness, and dedication,” Apo said.
“My coach is a funny and very supportive guy. He never fails to provide for his family. He loves the sport of rodeo and practically devotes his life to it. But that’s what I love about my coach. He makes sure I’m doing everything correctly, even during the toughest times in the arena. He is always there to help me, and he can always find ways to cheer me up if I’m having a bad day in the practice pen or rodeo,” Hooper said.
In the future, Hooper plans to pursue rodeo in college and some day open his own ranch and possibly a school for team roping.