Local roper overcomes odds on way to junior high nationals

Koby Douch prepares for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo earlier this week at a training facility southeast of Huntsville. The rodeo will take place in Huron, South Dakota later this month, featuring the top junior high performers in the country.

Just under a year ago, Koby Douch never thought he’d find himself in the position that he’s in now.

Fresh off winning his first Texas Junior High Rodeo Association calf roping championship, Koby is headed off to the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, scheduled for June 23-29 in Huron, South Dakota. While he took part in the event as a sixth-grader, this year’s appearance provides him the chance to cap his junior high career — and an improbable comeback — with a national title.

On July 3, 2018, Koby was hit by a car while riding his bike as he was about to leave to compete in a rodeo that day. The accident left him with two broken bones in his leg, a broken blood vessel and an eyelid that was “knocked off.” Briefly, he doubted whether he’d ever be able to get back in the rodeo arena.

“For a minute, I didn't (think I would come back),” Koby said. “I thought my career was over with.”

Despite the serious nature of his injuries, he didn’t waste much time getting back on track.

Koby’s mother, Gladys, remarked that her son was “determined” to rebound from the accident. Gaylon Georges — who has helped Koby with his roping at the property where he trains, located southeast of Huntsville and owned by World Champion cowboy Joe Beaver — added that, “it was hard to keep him still.”

His return to competition couldn’t have gone much better. When Koby finally got back on the horse on Thanksgiving Day, he won a trailer at the Future Stars of Calf Roping jackpot in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

“I was relieved,” Koby recalled. “It gave me a lot more confidence when I won that trailer.”

With this confidence continuing to grow after his state championship victory, Koby is looking to follow in the footsteps of his brother, John.

In 2012, John — who is currently pursuing a professional rodeo career, with Beaver often traveling by his side on the road — became the first African American to win both the Texas and national junior high calf roping championships. He went on to win state and national titles at the high school level as well.

“He won nationals in junior high, and was the first black person to ever have done that,” Gladys said. “Then seven years later, Koby came and won state. Now, he's running at that national title.”

“I want to do what my brother did,” Koby remarked.

Georges notes that Koby has been practicing “at least 20 hours per week” — and sometimes more — as he gears up for his final shot at a junior high national title.

With nationals just over a week away, he’s ready for South Dakota.

“Go up there and win,” said Koby of what he’s looking forward to. “And get out of this heat,” he added with a grin.

Koby Douch Calf Roping Jackpot Fundraiser

The family of Koby Douch will be holding a jackpot calf roping fundraiser on Sunday to help with the costs of his trip to nationals in South Dakota.

There is a $30 entry fee to compete at the event, which is scheduled to begin Sunday at 2 p.m. at FM 1696 West. The cost of admission is $3. Donations will also be taken at the gate.

For more information, contact Gladys Douch at (936) 662-3279.