Bronco relaxes by calf roping; UVA assistants Beck and Poppinga said they’d give it a try

By Jerry Ratcliffe

UVA quarterbacks coach Jason Beck (left) and co-defensive coordinator Kelly Poppinga (Photos: UVA Athletics)

Bronco Mendenhall told the media last week about his unique way of winding down after his daily work with Virginia football.

Mendenhall, who grew up on a ranch in Utah, has horses on his property in Albemarle County. After he takes care of his football work each day, he spends a couple of hours calf roping. In fact, he estimated that he’s spent more time calf roping during the pandemic shutdown than he did all of his life collectively.

Media couldn’t resist asking a couple of Bronco’s assistants this week if they had ever calf roped, and if the opportunity arose, would they take a shot at the challenge?

Quarterbacks coach Jason Beck said Thursday that he would try it if the head coach ever asked.

“Here’s an interesting backstory that nobody would probably know,” Beck said. “So I was born in Bear Lake, Idaho. My dad was a dairy farmer and I lived there until I was eight, so I would go to the rodeos and the kids would ride the sheep and do those things.

“We moved to Oxnard (California) when I was eight, so I didn’t progress much past that phase of things. But, yeah, I would definitely try it. It’d be fun. I definitely would take a lot of practice to be pretty good.”

Someone chipped in that they would attempt to find a photo of Beck riding a sheep back in the day.

“I doubt there’s any photos,” Beck answered. “Actually, that would be fun to see.”

Co-defensive coordinator Kelly Poppinga said he has never tried calf roping at Mendenhall’s place.

“I would like to try it now that I’ve said that,” Poppinga said. “[Mendenhall] will probably make me go out and do it next time I’m out there. I’m from Wyoming, so how can I not try it? I never tried it before. I’ve been to a bunch of rodeos and seen it done. But, yes, now I gotta get my hands dirty a little bit and go out there and do it myself.”


  1. Eric Mills says:

    Rodeo is condemned by EVERY animal welfare organization in North America. And of all the sanctioned event (exempting steer busting) calf roping is by far the most egregious. And to mere babies, yet. Imagine the public outcry were pet dogs abused the same way. People wouldn’t stand for it. And shame on anyone who does it. Legislation is in order to ban this cruelty: local, state federal.

    Anyone in doubt need only see any of the many videos on YouTube. Type in “calf roping cruelty.”

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