Misty Mountain Hop set up for success with legend Charmayne James steering the ship

With Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo storming into Jerry World May 17, it’s a good time to be a rodeo fan!


PUEBLO, Colo. – When Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo invades AT&T Stadium May 17 as six top-tier rodeo teams hit the dirt for a next-level, competitive format, fans are set to see quite the infusion of old school wisdom mixed with new school talents.
With contestants like 2023 World Champions Tyler Waguespack (Steer Wrestling), Tyler Wade (Team Roping – Header) and Wesley Thorp (Team Roping – Heeler) representing just three of the standout athletes set to don Team Misty Mountain Hop jerseys next month inside Jerry World, the on-dirt showcases are going to be electric, no doubt.
Mix in some of the Western sporting world’s most successful and involved pillars like Bobby Mote, Trevor Brazile and beyond, and it’s no wonder why the game-changing event is set to welcome tens of thousands of fans to Arlington, Texas, for an epic one-night wonder.
And while Misty Mountain Hop Head Coach Charmayne James will defend the lore and roots of traditional rodeo until her last days on planet earth, she’s at least warming up to the idea that this could be a natural progression in growing the sport itself.
“I don’t know that it’s the future of rodeo, but it could potentially be another format. This is definitely the direction the sport needs to go to ascend to a higher level. I feel like with the PBR, it’s a whole different setup, so this thing could get legs and go,” the legend shared.
Kid Rock is going to bring those fans who aren’t just rodeo fans, but some new people, too. And when those fans come in and see the barrel-racers and the calf-ropers and the team-ropers go head-to-head and compete at the same time, and to watch the teams unfold and advance and see who’s eliminated, there’s going to be a lot of excitement around that. It’s the unique format and competitive nature that are going to make this an amazing event.”
With several birds chirping in the background and a brief stint of phone tag, it was apparent from the get-go that James is still very much still in touch with it all.
The land. The sport. The community itself.
Taking the call while getting some work done around the ranch, she isn’t going to be leading from the sidelines.
She’s very much still part of the show.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of staying on top of important dates and helping the team, because they’re busy competing in rodeos and doing their jobs, so just making sure we keep them in the loop on everything they need to know and just keep everybody energized, ready to win and staying pumped up. That’s my goal,” she detailed.
“Being somewhat comfortable with the whole thing before being there is going to be huge.”
Plenty decorated as an athlete herself, James brings decades of experience not only up on the saddle herself, but thousands of sessions watching and coaching from afar, as she continues to give back to the industry in which she dominated not so long ago.
But we aren’t here to applaud her past performances.
We’re here to celebrate her role in expanding the sport’s horizons, starting next month as she prepares to keep her coaching hat on.
And while she’s used to offering some pointers here and there in the barrel-racing world, she admitted preparing for Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo may involve a bit different of an approach, considering the team is chock full of All-World talent.
“As far as a coach, that’s all I’ve been doing for the past 20 years, is teaching. But this is kind of a whole different style. These guys that we’ve drafted are the top people in their respective disciplines. They’re trainers, they’re top athletes, so it’s not necessarily that I’ll be teaching them their sport. I’ll be there more as a guiding factor,” James shared earlier this month.
“Obviously, it was Justin McKee (the squad’s assistant coach) and I drafting the team and then now it will be, as we get into it, just getting good energy around the team. As the format plays out with the brackets, it’s all about which contestant is going to compete. On which horse and in which round are you going to utilize this contestant? So, that’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
The importance of trust, research, and at a certain point, following your gut, were huge aspects in not only assembling her squad during last month’s draft. They were the same tangibles the rodeo standout considered in deciding what her support staff would look like for this whole thing.
Athletes and running mate, alike!
“I’ve known Justin McKee for a lot of years. I know that he knows the cowboys, he knows the contestants and he’s a highly intelligent guy,” James shared.
“An analytical guy, and I knew that he’d be perfect to help us select our athletes because he’s seen them compete and he was great to strategize with and talk the whole thing through with. Just having such a smart guy was key for us.”
With some strategy coming into play before the talent-selecting showdown itself began, James and company found themselves entertaining a pre-draft trade with Team Jokers.
While Misty Mountain Hop, of course, played along and got the deal done, allowing the family affair to come full circle, thus allowing “Sid Rock” (Sid Steiner, Team Jokers’ head coach) to select his son, Rocker Steiner, with the No. 1 overall selection …
… it was much more a strategic play than a PR stunt, as James and McKee were able to position themselves with a plethora of selections from the first four rounds.
“So, when we started thinking about having the No. 1 pick, we knew it’d likely be Rocker. We also knew Sid absolutely would want Rocker on his team and we thought maybe we could better ourselves by getting some additional early picks,” James said.
“Sid, he didn’t really want to trade one of his earlier round picks, because we were basically trading him one selection for two, but he really didn’t want to go for it. But then he decided it was worth having Rocker. So, we traded that pick off and we did the same thing with Cody (Ohl).”
Add in a second trade with Team Convoys, as Head Coach Cody Ohl tapped his resources in moving up the board as well, and suddenly Misty Mountain Hop owned eight of the first 21 overall selections.
“Sid went for the trade, and it was a great trade for them to get Rocker. Then Cody got a higher pick, so he kind of got what he wanted and that gave us some earlier picks overall,” James detailed.
“We thought ‘Let’s try to let those other teams draft at the higher spots, then we get a majority of our team filled in the Top 21 spots,’ and that was kind of our goal. Everything fell into place.”
Owning nearly half of the selections from the first four rounds, it’s no wonder skip believes her squad walked away from the draft as the standout victors.
“I don’t think the draft could’ve gone any better for us, honestly. I felt like Justin and I dominated and everybody knew it at the draft. That might sound a little cocky, but it was obvious. And they all said ‘Well, we’ll just wait until we get to the stadium. Wait until we get there,’” James shared of the fun-poking camaraderie.
“Which is very true, but the first portion of it (the draft), we feel we’ve already won. Now we know we have to go compete and take home that championship. We know it’s not over, but we feel we have good odds in our favor.”
With Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo preparing to invade AT&T Stadium May 17, the Misty Mountain Hop shot-caller shared some insights on some of her top athletes:
Fast Fire: Quick-hitting takeaways on Team’s Top Selections
“We’ve got guys who are winners and bring good, positive energy. Folks that are rooting their teammates on and if someone takes your spot, guys who will still support those teammates and do whatever we need to get the win.”
On Tyler Waguespack, Selected No. 8 Overall (Steer Wrestling): “He’s a great competitor, he loves the format and he has the horses. He’s a great leader and that’s why we switched gears and wanted to get the steer wrestling taken care of. We thought it was an important event and it was important to us to get him. As we started thinking about the steer wrestling, a lot of them ride the same horses and who had good horses who would perform in the box, so we kind of changed gears on that and selected him with our first pick. We weren’t as concerned about the steer wrestling initially, but then we were.”
On Wenda Johnson, Selected No. 10 Overall (Barrel Racing): “It started off that we really wanted to get our bareback riders early, because the pool was a bit smaller, and we really wanted to get those picked early. Wenda was always considered by everyone as someone who isn’t afraid of anything, she’s gung-ho. Once Justin and I got her on the phone, we learned she had competed in team rodeos before, just in a bit different of a format, to which she said ‘oh yeah, that’s no big deal. If the ground is good, I have no problem running my horse more than once.’
That was big for us. She was so positive and fearless and that just stuck out for us. She was an important pick and she’s having a great year. She’s hot right now and we’re just hoping it carries on through until May.”
On Statler Wright, Selected No. 11 Overall (Saddle Bronc Riding): “Statler is just such a great competitor and solid all around. He brings a lot to it and he’s had great mentors. His family, right, they all compete at a really high level. Every time he goes out, he just performs well.”
“We tried not to get too hung up on any one particular person. We kind of went for horses, like which horses the athletes had that would be good in the box, because it’s going to be red light, green light. To go for people who seemed pretty solid, guys who were leaders and were really going to support each other in the long run and overall,” James shared.
“And a team that got along, because we didn’t want teammates around who didn’t like someone else. So, when we put the team together, those were the elements that went into it. There were some people on our list that other people got, obviously, but I feel like we have a really solid team all the way through.”
While chemistry and camaraderie will play a big part in each of the event’s six teams (with the sixth, and final squad, set to be decided at Rodeo Corpus Christi), James and company will still need put the pieces together on the dirt itself.
One of the many reasons fans will travel south to AT&T Stadium May 17 to witness one of the sporting world’s most entertaining events in Western sports history!
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media