Kaleb Driggers is back where he belongs, and it shows in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rankings.
The 26-year-old Stephenville resident spent most of the 2015 season competing as a heeler in team roping. Finishing the year ranked 33rd in the standings wasn’t up to par for the 2009 PRCA Rookie of the Year (among headers).
It was quite a switch for the Georgia native, who had achieved notable success in the first five years of his career competing as a header. He is approaching the $800,000 mark in career earnings as he gets ready to close out his eighth season on the team roping circuit.
Driggers has bounced back strong since returning to heading, reaching the No. 1 spot in the rankings. He is just ahead of another cowboy who calls Stephenville home, Luke Brown.
Last season was spent as the roping partner of longtime standout Martin Lucero of Stephenville.
“Last year was a learning opportunity to be around a good businessman,” Driggers said of roping with Lucero.
Lucero had plenty of experience for Driggers to draw from. His rookie year was 1991. Driggers turned 2 years old in December of that year.
Now Driggers is flying high along with his new partner, Brazilian native and Burleson resident Junior Nogueira — the top-ranked heeler in the world.
So far in 2016, Driggers has won his division in eight rodeos. He was co-champion in heading three times.
“Being first is definitely what we all look forward to being,” Driggers said. “It’s enjoyable to be No. 1. I’ve been No. 1 before, so it doesn’t affect me. I’d like to be world champ, and my partner as well. I just try to keep moving forward.”
Even with his resurgence, he said there are always learning opportunities that come with competing.
“Every day, I try to learn from my mistakes,” Driggers said. “Sometimes you lose your focus. That plays a large role in what we’re doing.”
Driggers sounded grateful to be in his position, even though he admitted that traveling can get tiresome.
“It’s tough to make the finals in any event,” he said. “To get to do what you love every day — and travel is part of it — I’m pretty blessed.”
Driggers said he bought a home in Stephenville in 2013, sold it, and then bought another one here.
“This is a really good spot to live if this is what you love to do,” Driggers said of Stephenville.
He manages to get away for relaxation on occasion, such as last December when he and one of his buddies traveled to the Grand Cayman Islands. They decided to try something totally different — snorkeling.
But after enjoying such a special vacation, it’s right back to work in the practice arena. There are roping skills to maintain and mental focus to be regained.
“This lifestyle consumes most of the year,” Driggers said. “You’re constantly getting ready for something. There is not a lot of down time.”