Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader Monty James is only 14, but he already fits the glowing image of a rugged and bold cowboy who never shirks from a danger or duty in his life.
The persona he carries is perhaps due to the courage and wherewithal he showed in rebounding from serious injuries he suffered over a year ago in an ATV accident.
Gila County Youth Development 4-H Extension Leader Lani Hall is among those who has watched the teenager recover from the accident to become one of the Arizona Junior High School Rodeo Association’s finest competitors.
“It’s amazing what Monty did, just amazing,” she said.
The injuries the teenager incurred in the accident included legs, knees and ankles shattered 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.
Monty was bedridden for more than a month and in rehab for months after that.
Despite all Monty suffered, he was at top form last weekend in Prescott where the AJHSRA finals were held.
In them, Monty won the ribbon roping and breakaway calf-roping championship and was the reserve champion in team roping.
For his efforts, Monty received two certificates for saddles that will be handcrafted to his specifications by Dynamite Horse Supplies in Buckeye.
In the ribbon roping, Monty teamed with partner Blythe Veshears of Gilbert and in the team roping hooked up with Ranger Hill.
With the junior high finals at an end, Hall remains stunned by what the teen accomplished, “It is kind of amazing for him to win two championships.
“He works very hard and had some big injuries to overcome.”
RCMS teacher Nicole Ward is equally impressed by Monty’s determination saying it is an inspiration to all students.
At a school assembly on May 24, Ward and others watched as Monty was honored for his accomplishments in the rodeo arena and classroom.
Prior to the accident, James had shown great promise on the rodeo circuit, winning All-Around Cowboy honors in the 9- to 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.
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.
With the school year at an end, Monty will soon be a high school freshman and eligible to compete on the Arizona High School Rodeo Association circuit.
Most who know him are betting he’ll round into one of high school’s finest competitors just as he was in junior high.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association awaits after graduation, offering challenges that only those as gutsy and confident as Monty are willing to take on.