Meet the Member
story by Lindsay Humphrey Basically every event that Gracie Lewis can enter in the OKJHSRA is what she’s entered the entire season. Aside from the […]
story by Lindsay King
Barreling down the arena, 12-year-old Sydney Hollingsworth’s feet hit the ground and she is running. Speed is what gets the Stillwater, Oklahoma, cowgirl’s blood pumping, both in the arena and on the track. “I love to run but I used to be really bad at it. I practiced everyday with my best friend until I started getting faster.” She runs to flank a goat and to hand off a baton.
“Winning makes anything better. I ran the 4×400 relay at a meet last year and we got second. That’s when I started to like running a lot more.” This seventh grader is a whiz at math at Stillwater Middle School and aspires to do research about horses when she grows up. “I want to find a cure for EPM one day. I was looking at a barrel horse to buy but he ended up having EPM so we could not buy him.”
Barrels is Sydney’s favorite event because she gets to run on Bee. “She is super fast and comes out of her turns really well. She is great on the whole pattern really.” Only a team since last December, Sydney and Bee traveled to several states this summer to get acquainted better. “It was exciting but challenging to run in unfamiliar places. I did not know what the atmosphere would be but I also got to compete against really good barrel racers.”
This year Sydney plans to make every OKJHSRA event. “We had to give the horse I was running last year a break in the middle of the season after we found out he has chronic airway inflammation.” The OKJHSRA appeals to Sydney’s competitive nature as it pushes her to practice hard at least five times a week. “My dad, Cody, is the rodeo coach for OSU. I usually go to their arena after school so I can practice with the team. I get a lot of opinions and help from different people that show me little things to fix I do not think about.”
Cody rode bulls for OSU back in the day and the PRCA for 20 years while Katie, her mom, runs barrels in open events. “I have been around rodeo for as long as I can remember. I competed in my first rodeo when I was six in barrels, poles and goats.” Sydney now competes in barrels, breakaway roping, goat tying and ribbon roping. “My dad helps push me to work hard and then a lot of girls from the rodeo team have helped me out by letting me use their horses.” One of those girls is Kyre Larabee. “I look up to her a lot because she does not care what people think about her. She just goes out there and does her best every time.”
Sydney has her sights set on The American one day. “I love it because somebody young can compete against people like Lisa Lockhart and Fallon Taylor and still have a shot to win.” She almost has her dad talked into going to watch the NFR. “I love watching the NFR because you get to see the best in rodeo compete against each other.” Sydney likes competing at the Lazy E best for now but is looking to trade that up for high school and college national finals in the not-so-distant future. “I would like to at least try to rodeo professionally and make the NFR when I get older.” For now, she is working towards making nationals in at least two of her events.
Her proudest moment so far was winning the breakaway in the COJRA in 2015. “I always just try to take a deep breath and not worry about everything else going on around me when I am in the box or just waiting for my run.” Despite competing at jackpots and rodeos every weekend, Sydney finds time to paint. “I was in art three years ago and just decided to start painting with watercolors. I mostly paint sunsets and bull skulls.” The rest of her time is spent riding horses and practicing, but Sydney does it because she loves it. “Rodeo is my family’s sport; it is just what we do.”
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