N.D. teens become roping champions despite 15-year-old’s stroke 2 years agoMore than two years after having a stroke, 15-year-old Jamie Fredrickson became the North Dakota High School Rodeo Association team roping champion along with his partner Tyrel Fitzgerald, 17. The boys competed June 18-20 in Bowman and qualified for the upcoming national championships in Wyoming.
By: Andrea Johnson, Associated Press
MINOT — More than two years after having a stroke, 15-year-old Jamie Fredrickson became the North Dakota High School Rodeo Association team roping champion along with his partner Tyrel Fitzgerald, 17. The boys competed June 18-20 in Bowman and qualified for the upcoming national championships in Wyoming.
Both Fitzgerald, who graduated this spring from TGU-Granville High School, and Fredrickson, who is heading into his sophomore year at TGU-Granville High, said Fredrickson’s stroke may actually have contributed to their becoming champions.
“I rope smarter now,” said Fredrickson. “I miss less.”
Fitzgerald said he’s noticed that Fredrickson actually thinks out his moves before making them, which helps improve his accuracy. He’s a better roper now than he was before he battled his way back from the stroke, Fitzgerald said of his partner.
“He doesn’t take stupid shots,” said Fitzgerald. “He makes sure he gets the shot.”
Fredrickson was 13 when he caught a virus that settled in his heart and traveled to his brain and caused the stroke.
“I couldn’t move my left side,” said Fredrickson.
Weeks of physical and occupational therapy followed, but about six months later he was able to rope again. Fredrickson’s family, like Fitzgerald’s, runs a ranching operation and Fredrickson has been roping and riding horseback since he was a young child. He said getting back to roping was a major incentive for him to get better.
TGU-Granville principal Tonya Hunskor said she’s noticed the work Fredrickson has put in.
“He had to do a lot of rehabilitation and physical therapy over the years to gain his abilities back,” she said, adding that Fredrickson still has some residual problems left behind by the stroke but doesn’t call attention to it. “He is very determined not to have his disabilities be a problem,” she said.
Fredrickson, who drives himself around, said he can do pretty much anything he wants to do now.
Hunskor said that Fitzgerald has been a great source of support for Fredrickson and is a good teammate. Both boys have been active in rodeo for years and the school recognizes the sport and is supportive, said Hunskor. Students from both TGU-Granville and TGU-Towner have competed in rodeo, which Hunskor said is sometimes an unsung sport in comparison to the other sports at the high school.
In addition to Fredrickson and Fitzgerald, Towner student Tyler Thorson also qualified for the national championships in Wyoming later this summer.
Both Fitzgerald and Fredrickson said they want to continue competing in rodeo and are both interested in taking over their family’s ranching operations. Rodeo and ranching are passions for both.
“The school and the community are both very proud of these young men,” said Hunskor, and of the passion and dedication they have to their sport.