story by Siri Stevens Addison Gautreaux lives on a 4th generation farm outside Opelousas, Louis., where she is surrounded by cattle and horses, but once […]
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Meet the Member Josie Conner
story by Michele Toberer
Setting goals and achieving them has been a significant part of Louisiana cowgirl, Josie Conner’s life; and she can now check obtaining a world champion title off her goal list. The 14-year-old, homeschooled, 8th-grader is basking in the glow of her newly acquired National Junior High Champion Breakaway Roper buckle that she just earned in Huron, South Dakota. Josie came to the NJHSFR with confidence after recently being crowned the 2018 Louisiana Junior High School Rodeo Association State Champion Breakaway Roper but knew the stakes and level of competition were going to be even higher at the national competition. However, preparing for the national finals was no different than the preparation she puts in for rodeo every day. Practicing for rodeos is a part of the Iowa, Louisiana cowgirl’s daily existence, as she is always getting ready for the next rodeo, whether it is for junior high rodeo or one of the many association rodeos that she competes in. Josie is currently one of the top 10 breakaway ropers in the LRCA, CPRA, and UPRA, and is determined to reach her goals of making the season finals for each of those associations. Her sights are also set on qualifying for the RFD-TV American Rodeo, as she competes at the Roy Cooper Open Breakaway roping qualifier in July.
Josie’s parents are both LHSRA alumni; Wendi, a Pfizer Pharmaceutical sales rep, was a LHSRA All-Around Champion Cowgirl, and Jade, a clinician and rancher, was a LHSRA calf roper and team roper. Jade has turned his focus from his own PRCA rodeo career, to his daughter’s rodeo ambitions and he and Wendi proudly support their only child in all that she does. “If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am as a roper.”
In Huron, Josie roped her first calf Monday morning, winning the round with a 2.19 second run. “I was anxious to rope my second calf on Friday night. I was glad I had knocked my first round out, but I still needed to rope good.” Josie roped her second calf in 2.69 seconds, which kept her in the number one spot in the aggregate coming into Saturday’s short-go. Although Josie was feeling a bit anxious as she watched the final few cowgirls before her, she knew that she had prepared for this exact run. “I had been watching the calves I had drawn and knew that I drew good all week. I had Winston Frey pushing my calf, my dad was right there in the box with me, and my horse is special. I knew that whatever happened was meant to happen.” Her dad’s final advice was much like his advice before any calf, “he says, score sharp, be ready and just do what you can on this calf, attack it.” Josie’s horse Pipee, an 11-year old black mare, put her in the perfect position to rope her final calf in just 3.3 seconds, clinching the championship title. “Pipee is sassy and thinks she owns everything and that it always needs to be her way, but I love roping on her, she makes it so easy.” Once Josie knew she had won the title, a smile didn’t leave her face. She was grateful she was able to see her dad for a hug before being whisked away for interviews and photos, celebrating the national champion cowgirl. She looks forward to making the most of the opportunities this national title will offer, including competing at the JR NFR in December.
Josie had a great experience at nationals all the way around. The Louisiana team not only earned several national and reserve national titles, but also grew closer through activities like the volleyball tournament. She enjoyed participating in the Cinch academic scholarship process and was grateful to receive a $500 academic scholarship. She plans to use her scholarships to obtain a business degree while she college rodeos for McNeese State University, with the goal ultimately being to work in the equine industry.
“I want to thank my parents for all they’ve done for me, and all of my friends for their support, including roping mentors, JJ Hampton, Lari Dee Guy and Hope Thompson.” Josie also appreciates Charlie One Horse for giving her amazing hats all season, Lonestar Feed for keeping her horses looking great, Equine Catalyst and P&P Trailer Sales.