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Meet the Member Sadie Wolaver
story by Michele Toberer
Third generation barrel racer, Sadie Wolaver, has spent her life watching her dad and grandpa running three barrels, gleaning knowledge from them at every turn. Her dad, Joey Wolaver, is not only an accomplished barrel racing jockey in the NBHA but is also Sadie’s hauling partner and greatest supporter. Joey followed after his dad, Billy Joe Wolaver when it came to running barrel horses, and it definitely has influenced the desires of his and his daughter’s future. Sadie lives in Fayetteville, Tennessee with her dad and mom, Jennifer, as well as her older brother, Ty. Her parents own and operate Wolaver Heating and Cooling. Her grandpa, now 77, lives nearby and no longer attends every rodeo, but he can count on Sadie sending him a video of every one of her runs.
When Sadie was just four-years-old, she started entering barrel races on her own, earning her first championship at the age of five, in the Southern Middle Tennessee Youth Rodeo Association, winning a saddle and 5 buckles on her little grey pony she called Candyland. Since that first championship, Sadie has entered and won many barrel races on many horses and at just 17-years-old, she has very determined goals for her future, including aspirations of making those coveted barrel runs at the NFR one day.
Sadie enjoyed her senior year at Lincoln County High School, where she was involved in FFA and the school spirit club, graduating from high school with Honors and Distinction while simultaneously completing a semester of college credits. Although it is a class often dreaded by students, AP Calculus was Sadie’s favorite subject because she finds a true satisfaction in solving math problems, which lends perfectly towards Sadie’s desire of being an accountant down the road. Sadie has competed in the THSRA as well as the TJHSRA. When she started in 6th grade, she only barrel raced, but soon added other events and she currently competes in barrels, pole bending, breakaway and goat tying. Sadie was the THSRA champion rookie cowgirl and reserve-champion all-around cowgirl in 2015 and has qualified for national finals all three years of junior high and all four years of high school. In 2017, she was the THSRA champion barrel racer.
In the THSRA, Sadie runs poles and ties goats on her 16-year-old Appaloosa gelding, Rocky, who she has owned for 10 years. “My pole horse was hurt my freshman year, so I had to use Rocky, but he picked it up and has done great, running 20’s almost every time in poles.” She has appreciated being able to practice with and get help with breakaway roping from Monty Delfunt, as well as goat tying help from Monty’s daughter Jessica. The past two years, Sadie has run barrels on a 10-year-old palomino mare, that she calls Princess, “She is a gritty mare and gives you all heart no matter what. It doesn’t matter the size of the pen, or what the ground is like, I can always count on her to give me her all.”
Sadie credits the bond that she has with her dad for being part of her decision to go to Motlow State Community College, close to home next year. “My dad and I are so much alike that it’s really good. He gives me advice on what approach I should take in a new arena and helps me with a game plan at different rodeos, but he also tells me what I should have done when things don’t go as planned. Part of the reason I’m staying home for school is so that we can still haul together.” Sadie lives across the road from Jimmy and Jamie Cagle and appreciates getting helpful tips from such accomplished barrel racers. Sadie also looks to Lisa Lockhart for inspiration, loving her consistency and the fact that she is always calm and relaxed while she makes such correct runs every time.
Last year was the first year Sadie competed in the SPRA, competing on her high school member card, and she made it to the season finals, where she won a round and was the barrel racing finals average champion. This year, competing in SPRA as well as IPRA rodeos, she has her sights set on rookie championships in both associations.