PUEBLO, Colo. – It was a subtle, yet strongly important conversation in August that changed Josh Faircloth’s 2014 season.
Faircloth was at Jerome Davis’ ranch in Archdale, North Carolina, doing some roping when the two sat down inside Davis’ arena and began talking about bull riding.
The 25-year-old had been busting his tail all summer long in the Touring Pro Division in hopes of making it back onto the Built Ford Tough Series, following only two appearances in the first half of the season.
Davis, a longtime mentor to various North Carolina bull riders, began to talk to Faircloth about having the mindset of a champion. It wasn’t a matter of talent alone, but more a matter of mental strength that would help him reach the next level of his career if he wanted to ride on the BFTS.
“We got to talking about believing that you deserve to be here and really knowing and showing up and winning,” Faircloth recalled. “He was big. That really changed my mind.”
Faircloth took Davis’ advice to heart, and later made the most of his alternate spot in the draw at the BFTS event in Thackerville, Oklahoma, by going 1-for-3 to place eighth overall.
He would then be an alternate two weeks later in Springfield, Missouri, and posted a career-high fifth-place finish to jump to 32nd in the world standings.
Faircloth competed in the final four events of the regular season, using an eighth-place performance in Biloxi, Mississippi, to help propel him to his first Built Ford Tough World Finals as a Top-35 qualifier, following appearances at the Finals in 2010 and 2011 as an alternate.
“The last few events, I was thinking I deserve to win,” Faircloth said. “I always felt like I deserved to be here and I had people pushing me and backing me and constantly telling me where I need to be. That helped out.”
Davis challenged Faircloth to truly believe he had the mental strength and physical talents to compete against the best bull riders in the world this summer.
“The only difference between the guy at the end of the year that wins $1.5 million and a guy that is on the bubble that doesn’t make the Finals is their mindset,” Davis said. “The guy that wins first, he won first because he believed every bull that he got on he could ride. I told Josh he has to have that mindset, because every guy in front of him has got that. You have to become a machine and you have to realize when you nod your head there is nothing that can put you on the ground.”
It was a similar bit of advice that Faircloth received a couple of years ago from J.W. Hart.
“J.W. Hart told me, ‘You are trying not to lose, instead of trying to win.”
Faircloth concluded 2014 a career-best 33rd in the world standings and posted a career-high four Top-10 finishes. He competed in nine total events, which was more than the combined eight he attended the past two seasons.
He nodded his head 41 times at 19 different summer events, earning wins in Cincinnati; Huntsville, Alabama; and Fort Myers, Florida, to climb his way back onto the BFTS.
Josh Faircloth posts 88.5 points on Neon Nightmare to win the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Cincinnati.
“Chad VanAmburg, Jay Miller and I just pushed ourselves,” Faircloth said. “We went to every (TPD) we could. No matter where they were at, we would be entered twice just to try and make it.”
The long, humbling process was also a beneficial one, he added.
“It can help you a lot, because bull riding is something you can’t sit home on the couch and win a few weeks later,” Faircloth said. “You have to go. The more bulls you get on, the better you are going to do, because it is a timing thing. I got to get on a lot of bulls this summer.”
While Faircloth didn’t have the Finals he wanted – he finished 0-for-5 – he is excited to start the 2015 season with a guaranteed spot in the draw for the first five events.
“It means more than anything,” Faircloth said. “I am tickled to death. I think I have a good shot to be here and to stay. Next, my plan is to be Top 10 in the world. My goal is already set.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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