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Meet the Member Kelly Kohle
story by Lily Weinacht
Kelly Kohle’s rodeo family is ever expanding, and she finds her drive for the sport just as much from her friends as the numbers on the scoreboard. The 25 year old from Stuart, Nebraska, joined the M-SRA four or five years ago, entering the breakaway and mixed team roping. She’s made it to their finals every year – along with the NSRA finals for the first time last year – but names the summer of 2016 as one of the best she’s had thus far. “I had awesome traveling partners in Amber Coleman and Josh Hammer. Amber and I were neck and neck in breakaway for first place at Mid States throughout the whole summer, but no matter who wins, we’re always there to help each other,” says Kelly. “Over the summer, traveling partners are your best friends, but they also play the role of coaches when you’re going down the road.”
Kelly started in 4-H and climbed the ladder of junior high, high school, and college rodeos. She and her brother, Chris, and sister, Laura, rode and worked on their family’s feedlot and cow/calf operation, and credit Sheryl DeGroff with introducing them to rodeo. “My family is my biggest supporter, and growing up, Mom and Dad made sure we got to rodeos, and my siblings and I pushed each other. Sheryl taught us the fundamentals of horsemanship, and that rodeo is about who works the hardest and is the most dedicated. Miles Garwood and Jim Wakefield were always around with calves and a place to rope, so I have really amazing coaches willing to help.”
Though she enjoys her two events equally, Kelly appreciates the speed of breakaway and the challenge of putting a run together. “You can be the best roper out there, but without a horse that works with you or you with them, you won’t put together an outstanding run.” Kelly often heads in the team roping, and though her partners change depending on the rodeo, she mainly competes with Matt Elliott and Quincy Opela.
Her rope horse, Squall, came from Jean Estill and Miles Garwood, who started him on roping. “I’d been looking for a horse to ride, so I gave Squall a try at some college rodeos, and we’ve been together ever since. It took us a little while to click – he had a lot of energy, and it took a while to get him good in the box. Now he’s almost a completely different horse in the box, and I can use him on the ranch for everything, then turn around and go to a rodeo that night.”
Kelly helps on her family’s feedlot as often as she can, and also runs a massage therapy business in Stuart. After graduating with a bachelor’s in animal science from University of Nebraska at Lincoln – where she also rodeoed – Kelly went back to school and completed a year-long massage therapy program. “I started my business a year and a half ago, and I also take my massage chair to rodeos so I can work on people there. It’s nice as long as we can find a shade tree.”
Kelly’s sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Bryan, work on the family feedlot and rope as often as they can, while Chris enjoys working reining cow horses. Kelly also enjoys running, and has run a marathon relay with some of her family. “I enter a lot of fun runs in the area, and my niece likes to run, so it’s fun to have her along.
“Being at the top of my events is always a goal, but a lot of my trouble is working on the mental game and not being nervous in the breakaway,” she finishes. “My goal this year is to have a better Mid States finals.”