Roper breaks through in Ponoka

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Darren Bellerose of Slave Lake is full of surprises. Last week he informed The Leader he’d just won $6,500 in a team roping event in Ponoka. Four years into the sport, he’s getting pretty good at it, and has even qualified to compete in a world championship event in Las Vegas in November.

Whether he goes or not is another question.

“It would be a huge expense,” he says.

Bellerose is known as one of the better golfers in the area; also a decent hockey player in his day, with a brief stint as a Slave Lake Winterhawk. He’s also got a full-time oilfield job and a young family with kids who are involved in hockey, dance and what have you.

“I’m busy!” he says, in somewhat of an understatement.

Lately, with Bellerose tearing around the country to team roping events on weekends, something has to give, and he says the golf is “on the back burner,” for now. Because as it turns out, this team roping thing is a pretty big deal.

“I probably was in a dozen events this winter,” he says, and now the outdoor season is in full swing. He was due to compete in Barrhead last week, then at the Mayerthorpe Rodeo on the May 26 weekend; Fort St. John B.C. on June 10.

At the Ponoka event earlier this month, Bellerose and his team roping partner Lacey McAleney of Teepee Creek won the #8 event. Without getting into a complicated explanation, team-roping is handicapped, so as to put people of similar skill levels against each other. The money is decent, with $13,090 split between the pair for their first-place finish – by far the most Bellerose has won to date.

The sport is new for Bellerose. He did a bit of rodeo stuff growing up in Driftpile – steer riding, for example – but nothing like this.
“I got too big,” he says (he’s about 6’5”), and moved on to other things.

As to why he got into it, he says he was looking for a different challenge and was encouraged by a couple of friends to give it a try.

Darren Bellerose and his team roping partner Lacey McAleney of Teepee Cree, after their victory in Ponoka on May 12.

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