Bloodline: Tie-down star Yates returns to hometown rodeo
Marty Yates was born into a successful rodeo family, and is continuing the tradition at age 26 as one of the world’s top competitors in tie-down roping.
Yates is returning to his hometown of Stephenville this week to compete in the 51st annual Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo. The event is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at Lone Star Arena.
His late father, Marty Sr., was a Texas state rodeo champion in high school, and competed for Tarleton State University — which offers a scholarship in his name.
Marty’s mother, Angie, also compete in rodeo, as did his late uncle J.W. “Row” Yates, who won the 1994 Texas high school team roping championship with the legendary Trevor Brazile. And Marty’s aunt, J.J. Hampton, has fashioned an incredible career as a 17-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association champion.
“It’s kind of in my blood to be a rodeo cowboy,” Yates told the Empire-Tribune by phone Sunday, just after placing sixth in a rodeo in Gooding, Idaho. “My grandpa and my great-uncle competed and ranched around here. I didn’t know anything else. I was riding a horse before I could walk very good.”
Yates has made a name for himself as well, racking up $1,193,835 in earnings since joining the PRCA in 2013. He finished 2019 in fifth place in the world standings, with $212,854. His current tie-down ranking is again fifth, with $56,168 in earnings in 2020.
“This will be my seventh year to make the National Finals,” Yates said of the big season-ending rodeo, Dec. 3-12 at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
In 2018, Yates established a Lone Star Arena record in winning the tie-down event at the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo with a blistering time of 7.2 seconds. The world record in tie-down roping is 6.5 seconds, set in 2003 by Cody Ohl and tied in 2015 by Brazile.
Yates has long been friends with Brazile, and considers him a rodeo and life mentor along with Trent Walls.
Brazile, a native of Amarillo who now lives in Decatur, has won 25 world titles since joining the pro rodeo circuit in 1996. Brazile broke the career World All-Around Cowboy titles held by another pro rodeo legend, Stephenville resident Ty Murray, when he earned his eighth in 2010.
“I looked up to (Brazile) — I always go to him (for advice). Growing up, he was pretty much part of the family,” said Yates, who was planning on competing in one more rodeo before arriving in Stephenville on Friday — in time for his appearance in Friday morning slack. “And the person who helped me more than anybody was Trent Walls (son of local rodeo secretary Delia Walls).”
Yates attended Stephenville schools through his fifth-grade year, then transferred to the Huckabay school system.
“I grew up on (State Highway) 108 between Stephenville and Huckabay,” said Yates, who now has his own ranch in Erath County.
A hectic travel schedule is the norm for Yates. He said that he will have competed in 65 rodeos by the end of the season.
Yates said he likely will compete full-time in tie-down for about another 10 years. He also enjoys team roping, but more as a hobby. That could become more of a regular part of his schedule as he gets older, he said.
After graduating from Huckabay High School, where he played basketball four years, Yates attended Hill College for a semester and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
He said that his top career highlight, if he had to pinpoint one, came when he won the tie-down event in The American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the second year in a row, in 2018. He earned a hefty paycheck of $100,000 for that title.
Schedule of events
Thursday, Sept. 24
• 9 a.m.: PRCA Steer Roping Slack, Lone Star Arena.
• 5-7 p.m.: Rodeo memorabilia exhibit reception presented by Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, River North Gallery.
Friday, Sept. 25
• 9 a.m.: PRCA Timed Event Slack, Lone Star Arena.
• 7 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo Performance No. 1, American Patriot Night (honoring all those who serve), Lone Star Arena.
Saturday, Sept. 26
• 7:30 a.m.: Cowboy Capital 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run, Stephenville City Park.
• 10 a.m.: Rodeo Heritage Parade, Stephenville downtown square.
• 7 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo Performance No. 2 (“It’s Gonna Get Western Night”), Lone Star Arena.
• 9 p.m.: Dancin’ in the Dirt live music concert with Jake Hooker & The Outsiders, Lone Star Arena (free admission with rodeo ticket).
Sunday, Sept. 27
• 2 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo Performance No. 3 (“Sunday Showdown”), Lone Star Arena.