Everything went right for the Wards at BFI 2020 during likely the closest finish in BFI history – seven-hundredths of a second over six steers decided the difference between $150,000 and $100,000.
Andrew and Reagan Ward drew arguably the best two steers in the pen during the short round with their respective partners, Buddy Hawkins and Kal Fuller. And made them count. Andrew and Buddy, from eighth callback, placed fourth while Kal and Reagan from fourth callback won the round to squeeze into first in the average and hold on. The Ward brothers, who grew up just 20 miles from the Lazy E Arena, gathered up $105,000 in cash and truckloads of prizes.
Nobody was happier than their parents, Terry and Terri Ward. Their ski trip to New Mexico had already been scheduled when the BFI was moved to Oklahoma, so they cut it a day short to make it home in time for the world’s richest Open roping. Mom and Dad watched from their living room down the road, however, because they were over 65 and Covid-19 was still lurking.
“We are so grateful for the Wrangler Network carrying the roping, so we were able to stay home and watch,” said Terry. “And of course, the Cowboy Channel allowed us to watch the boys throughout the year.”
The Ward parents will be right there in town again to watch Andrew shoot for a similar finish with Buddy in March; last year the pair used the living-expense cash and momentum to propel them into the NFR. And Mom and Dad will eagerly await Reagan’s attempt at a repeat win, likely with fellow Oklahoman and former world champ Nick Sartain.
Mom and Dad Ward were both teachers from way back, and they home-schooled all eight of their children before it was cool – and not so the boys could rope. They simply believe parents are responsible for their children’s education. Let’s just say it didn’t hurt the boys’ mad roping skills. The first Ward son (they have five daughters), is the one who started it all, Terry said.
“Andrew and Reagan have an older brother, Brannon, who I talked into quitting Little League so we could get horses and start team roping,” Terry recalled. “I had horses growing up, but was never a real cowboy.”
Brannon’s experience partnering with the likes of Jacky Stephenson and touring with the Young Pros is how Andrew and Reagan grew up roping with excellent partners, their dad said.
“I still rope, but I would rather spend money supporting and entering them,” said Terry. “I’ve got a bunch of grandkids coming up, so I’ll get back into it.”
While his boys were fairly certain they wanted to rope professionally, Terry jokes that he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he grew up. After years as a school principal, he became president of an electrical contracting company for several more years, and is now a church pastor. Mr. Ward said he had often walked around the Lazy E Arena praying for its ownership and for smooth sailing when big events came to town. He feels like the BFI’s arrival was an answer to prayer.
“For the boys to have that type of experience at last year’s BFI was just amazing,” he went on. “The fact that Ullman-Peterson Events would go to the effort of finding a place to have that roping – it just blessed our socks off. A lot of producers would have just given up. I felt like those guys went out of their way to take care of the cowboys.”