It is rare to come across an athlete whose maturity and charisma transcends his or her sport. Local high school cowboy Jake Cruzan is one such athlete. Driven by a passion for horses, family and God, Cruzan is far more than just a cutter or team roper. He is an outstanding young man who, through his actions in and out of the arena, sets an inspiring example for all.
After spending a few minutes with Cruzan, one thing becomes clear. Like so many cowboys, he loves his horses. What is interesting, however, is that unlike many of his rodeo competitors, Cruzan did not grow up around the animals.
“My parents do not ride or rope,” said Cruzan. “They did not grow up around horses. My grandpa grew up around horses, but he did not start roping until I did. Given my background, it is sort of ironic that horses have become such a huge part of my life.”
Ironic indeed, but after bonding with his four-legged friends, Cruzan never looked back. After initially learning to ride and show horses in 4-H, Cruzan began competing in rodeos while in middle school. Immediately, his ability to connect with horses became apparent.
“I don’t consider myself the best roper or the best cutter, but I do consider myself to be a good horseman,” said Cruzan. “I think that my ability to keep my horses ready and tuned up has been a big key [to my success].”
Also key to Cruzan’s success as a horseman has been the fact that he just plain loves horses.
“I can’t stand not seeing my horses for a day,” said Cruzan. “My horses are my best friends, and I’m not lying about that.”
While horses may be his best friends, Cruzan’s family is what makes him the man he is today. From the time that he was born, Cruzan’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and sibling have provided him with support and encouragement.
“My parents are the best,” said Cruzan. “My grandparents, aunts, uncles and little brother have helped me a ton. Everyone has been behind me no matter what. My goal in life is to someday have a family like my family.”
As Cruzan looks out at his beautiful horses and spends time with his wonderful family, he cannot help but give thanks to a higher power.
“I’m a huge believer in God,” said Cruzan. “God helps me through thick and thin. He keeps me, my family and my horses safe.”
Coming off a strong performance in the National High School Finals rodeo in which he placed 11th in boys’ cutting and second in team roping, Cruzan hopes to continue training horses while setting an example for the younger generation.
“I want to be an inspiration to young people,” said Cruzan. “I also want to continue training horses. I believe that I can make a living [training horses] and that is what I want to do with my life.”
Possessing a special combination of confidence, charisma and humility, there is little doubt that Cruzan will grow into a wonderful horse trainer and so much more. Already an inspiration to those who know him, the future for Cortez’s most successful young cowboy will undoubtedly be bright.