Sometimes dreams can take a while. Other times they can come true at a young age.
Delaware County teen Ben Piazza saw one of his dreams come true earlier this month, when he won the calf roping competition at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee.
“It feels great to know that I can rope and compete with some of the toughest kids in the world,” said Piazza.
Piazza finished with an 8.8 in his first run at Shawnee to for a tie in third place.
He won the next go around he had a 9.7. He finished in 10th place and made the short go round.
There he had an 8.4 for first place and the title. There were 170 that competed in calf roping at the IFYR.
He then traveled to Gillette, Wyoming where competed in the National High School Finals Rodeo.
In his first performance, he finished in sixth place with a time of 11.92 and then a 10.56 in his second go round for third place in the performance.
He finished 16th in the average with 116 competing in the event.
“At Gillette it was a lot of the same kids that were at IFYR so I just knew I couldn’t lose focus and knew that I could win again if I drew good and just made a good practice pen run,” said Piazza.
He still has to pinch himself, as he thinks about his big win in Shawnee and his good finish in Gillette.
“I’ve had a pretty good summer so far," Piazza said. "I couldn’t do it without my horse. I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve been roping. Just hope to continue to keep getting better.
Piazza said his finish in Gillette was based upon the luck of the draw.
"[I] drew a tough calf that kicked bad ended up finishing 12th overall," Piazza said. "I was hoping to draw a little better and move up a little. But the luck of the draw wasn’t in my favor.
"Finishing in the top 20 at two of the biggest youth rodeos in the world is pretty satisfying to me considering the competition that competed at both rodeos.”
Piazza, the son of Chris and Jennifer Piazza, has lived in Twin Oaks all his life.
He went to Leach schools pre-k through first grade, before moving to Kansas Public Schools. A 2017 graduate, Piazza plans to attend Northeastern A&M College in Miami, this fall on a rodeo scholarship.
Working for his dreams makes for a hard day's work
“All I ever do is practice," Piazza said. "I don’t really have a social life because of all the time I spend in the practice pen or driving to a rodeo. I practice at least 4 to 5 days a week and sometimes we’ll start roping at 5 p.m., and won’t finish till 3 a.m..” said Piazza.
For Piazza, the rodeo life is nothing new. He attributes his success to all the people who have come alongside him, and helped in his journey.
“I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t on a horse,” Piazza said. “There have been tons and tons of people who have influenced me. But my parents have done the most for me. The Blisard family have also helped me a lot.”
Piazza began pursuing the sport as a young age. The hard work leaves him with little time for a social life.
“All I do is rodeo, work, and go to church,” said Piazza, adding he attends Green Country Church of Christ in West Siloam Springs.
“It is number one in my life," Piazza said. "It is the center of my whole world. Rodeo is a real humbling sport. For every win there is two times losing. So I always have my faith to up lift me."
Piazza has other dreams as well. He is currently fourth in the American Cowboy’s Rodeo Association and fifth in the Central Regional Rodeo Association.
“I have a dream to make it to the NFR in Vegas," Piazza said. "But my first priority to the dreams is get a good college degree so I’ll have something to fall back on if pro rodeo doesn’t work out in my favor."
He plans to major in animal or poultry science.