Jorden Carter ’26 ropes in his first year at Elon

As a competitive lassoer, Carter reflects on his first year attending Elon University.

As Jorden Carter ‘26 rounds out his first full academic year attending Elon University, he’s slowly making a name for himself on campus due to his surprising hobby.

Many Elon students could easily recognize Carter for his unique pastime, lassoing. or as he calls it, “ropin’.” It wouldn’t be uncommon to see him lassoing a couple of stacked Adirondack chairs in the Historic Neighborhood. Though he recently used the downtown Elon Maker Hub’s resources to assemble a custom rope & steer, so nowadays you’ll see him use that instead of the chairs.

His love for lassoing originates from living in Western North Carolina, where he would ride on horseback rounding up cows for various purposes during the calving season. Anytime he practices, an audience of students, faculty, staff and families on tour watch as he goes about his business. Carter is open to teaching fellow students how to properly use a lasso, as most people have only witnessed lassoing through movies or TV shows.

“Roping is like a hidden gem. The community and the people that like doing it are amazing. It’s such a tight-knit community. Everyone is out there cheering you on,” he said.

Carter’s competitive nature at a young age led him to competitive roping. During that time, he won several belt buckles, which are given as accomplishments in the “cowboy” world, for having the best time. He used the skills learned on the farm to improve his technique, becoming a force to reckon with in the rodeo.

Alex Lee ’25, left, gets some calf-roping instructions from Carter, right, outside Smith Hall, on Feb. 23, 2023. Carter used the Maker Hub to build the wooden target for practice.

“When you’re in a rodeo setting, you practice and practice all the time, and you’ll be getting better day after day. Doing something new, learning something new and reinforcing those skills that by the time you get into the arena, and you get in that shoot, you need to leave all thought, and it should be just muscle memory.” That competitive nature seems to run in the family as Carter’s cousin competes in bull rides.

“There’s a lot more fame when it comes to that. I mean, I can name bull riders left and right, but when it comes to ropers, it’s a little more difficult,” he said.

Transitioning from high school to college can be personally and academically challenging for most first-year students. But that adjustment has been relatively smooth for Carter. Before his acceptance, he toured several other institutions before being convinced by his step-grandad, an Elon alumnus, to tour the school.

The weather was poor during his tour, but instead of ruining his experience, it provided a different perspective for viewing Elon. He believed if he could fall in love with a school on tour in inclement weather, then it was meant to be. “If I can love this place when it looks like this, imagine what it looks like when it’s bright and sunny, and people are out. That’s what gravitated me to attend Elon.”

Whenever Carter isn’t roping, he enjoys knitting beanies, gloves and scarves. Recently, he completed a full blanket for his dorm room, and whenever a friend needs a warm hat, he’s always ready to knit. Carter’s mother would occasionally knit similar items and one day when he didn’t have much happening, he sat with his mom and began learning.

Throughout the fall 2022 semester, Carter frequently drove to his grandmother’s farm in Yanceyville to visit and help her prepare the farm to sell. He would always look forward to his grandmother’s renowned pork chops. It was a combination of how his grandmother prepped and cooked the meat that made it so special. “She’d throw it on the cast iron and add a lot of seasoning to it,” said Carter, who still drives to his grandmother’s house hoping to get a serving or two. “Every bite was something new and while it was like chewing a ball of rubber, the flavor was what made it worth chewing,” he added.

Whenever he returned to his residence in Smith, Carter said, “They’d see me in my chaps, covered in dirt and mud. I probably didn’t smell too good.” His floormates are continuously captivated by the sight.