When he graduated from Lipan High School eight years ago, Randall Carlisle had to choose the hoop or the loop.
He was a basketball star with scholarship offers. He also was a talented roper on the rodeo circuit.
While playing basketball from 2002 through 2005, Carlisle set a national record by hitting 516 career 3-point shots. He also helped Lipan clinch the UIL Class A boys state title in 2005.
Carlisle was a prize-winning roper who was captivated with looping prize money. So, when it came down to it, Carlisle opted for rodeo.
When the tie-down roping title was at stake during Saturday night at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo finals, Carlisle lassoed the $11,350 title after turning in a blistering time of 8.2 seconds during a sold-out performance before more than 5,700 spectators at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Other champions crowned Saturday night were: Kaycee Feild, bareback riding; Cody Wright, saddle bronc riding; Straws Milan, steer wrestling; Friday Wright II, bull riding; Brock Hanson and Kory Koontz, team roping; and Taylor Jacob, barrel racing.
Jacob, a Texas A&M communications major who lives in Carmine, earned $14,796, and finished as the 17-day rodeo's highest money winner.
In the tie-down roping title race, Carlisle, 26, who lives in College Station, entered the finals with the lead and was determined to remain in the No. 1 spot.
When it came his time to rope, he and a talented horse named Chester blasted out of the box, enabling him to make an instantaneous catch with the same type of precision that helped him pop net after net as a basketball player.
Though it's been awhile since he's dribbled down the hardwood floor and pulled up for a shot, Carlisle said the agility drills that helped him become a star basketball player have carried over to his roping career.
"When I played basketball, I did a lot of quick drills," he said. "It helped my hand-eye coordination and that also has helped me as a roper. Roping is similar to shooting a 3-pointer in the sense that you have to follow through ... you have to break your wrist and follow through. And when you rope a calf, you have to follow through and be sharp."
Over the years, Carlisle has become a notable Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competitor.
He said if he could go back in time, however, he would attended college on a basketball scholarship before pursuing a pro rodeo career.
But when he graduated from high school, Carlisle was winning prize money in rodeos. According to UIL regulations that govern high school sports, rodeo competitors are allowed to earn money at rodeos and remain eligible to play in Texas UIL sports because rodeo is a non-UIL approved sport.
So, when Carlisle was a senior, he opted to compete in rodeos because he saw immediate results.
"I had dollars in my pockets and everything was great," Carlisle said. "At the time, playing basketball wasn't paying my bills."
After choosing rodeo over collegiate basketball, Carlisle learned the ropes of pro rodeo while traveling with six-time world champion Cody Ohl.
"I made the choice to travel with Cody and it was one great experience," he said. "I really learned a lot."
As a pro competitor, Carlisle has had flashes of brilliance, such as winning the title at the 2007 Windy Ryon Memorial Roping, a renowned Fort Worth-based annual show that drew many of the sport's elite during the Memorial Day Weekend.
His best year on the PRCA circuit was 2008, when he finished 20th in the tie-down roping world title race after earning $55,927, which was five slots away from qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
In order to earn an NFR berth, a competitor has to finish in the top 15 in a single event, according to prize money earned during the regular season.
But after pocketing the $11,350 in Fort Worth, which will move him into the elite top 15 in the early season standings, Carlisle exudes confidence.
"God has a plan for me," he said. "I'll be at the NFR."