As Gila County’s Youth Development 4H Extension Leader, Lani Hall has witnessed many young cowboys and cowgirls take serious spills and later return to compete on the rodeo circuit.
But none of those who have rebounded from injuries stirred Hall’s emotions more than Rim Country Middle School seventh-grader Monty James.
Less than five months after suffering severe injuries in an ATV accident and spending three weeks in intensive care, James returned to the Arizona Junior High School rodeo circuit with a splash, winning first-place honors in a regular season-ending rodeo in Prescott.
“It’s amazing what Monty did, just amazing,” said Hall.
The injuries the teenager incurred in the accident including shattering his legs, knees and ankles so severely that they had to be surgically repaired and grafts done to replace skin tissue that had been shredded off the bone.
“They were really terrible (injuries),” said his mother Teri James, an accomplished barrel racer and roper.
Prior to the accident, James had shown great promise on the rodeo circuit, winning All-Around Cowboy honors in the 9-12-year-old division at the 2010 Arizona Junior Rodeo State Championships.
But after the accident, Hall said, there were those who questioned whether the boy would ever return to the form that earned him the title of being one of the state’s most promising young competitors.
Although bedridden for more than a month and in rehabilitation after that, James returned in time to compete in the AJHRA finals.
In those, the grand finale on the circuit, he finished first in the team roping, working as a header along with his heeling partner, Dillon Foster of Gilbert. The two have been roping together for about two years.
Equally as impressive, James won the breakaway team roping and managed a top 10 all-around finish for the season, despite missing six rodeos.
He also placed in the boys’ goat tying and the ribbon roping.
James also usually competes on the junior rodeo circuit, but he decided not to this year because he had missed so many of the events recovering from his accident.
As severe as the injuries were, they did nothing to squash the teen’s love of the sport of rodeo.
“He’s always asking me to turn cattle out for him so he can practice (roping),” said his mom.
Fortunately for the young cowboy, there is plenty of space and facilities for him to hone his skills on the ranch where his family lives at Little Green Valley, located on the south side of SR 260 about 13 miles east of Payson.
Teri James believes a part of her son’s ability to rebound so quickly from the accident should be attributed to the two mounts he competes aboard.
He has ridden his breakaway horse, “Bob,” for about five years and has ridden “Tuff,” his roping stead, for about four years.
With the junior high rodeo circuit at an end, James continues to practice roping, attend classes at RCMS and play pick-up games in another sport he enjoys.
“Basketball, he’s back playing that but he does have a slight limp,” said his Mom. “But we think that will go away and he’ll be back as he was.”
The confidence is understandable — what else could be expected from a tough young cowboy who refused to stay down even after suffering injuries that would sideline the strongest and heartiest of grown men?