story by Lindsay Humphrey “When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cowboy and now that I’m old enough that’s exactly what […]
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Meet the Member Tori Culley
story by Lindsay King
These are the days Tori Culley from Muse, Oklahoma, will remember most because they are her last chance to bend poles in the OHSRA. The 18-year-old high school senior also runs barrels, but poles are easily her favorite event. “I just like that it requires such a quick reaction time. The horse has to be athletic enough to switch leads to get through it, I think it is more challenging than any other event.”
Growing up in a family of team ropers, Tori is the odd ball of the family. “I remember the first time I ever ran a barrel pattern, I was on my dad’s head horse when I was about seven. They were team roping at a friend’s house and their daughter was about my age. She was running barrels and talked me into trying it. The rest is history.” Tori likes being a little different from her family in the sport of rodeo. Both of her brothers, Corben, 17, and Ty, 12, took to the family sport of team roping.
Her parents, Todd and Julie, have been the biggest rodeo influences for Tori. “My dad always tells me not to let my highs get too high or my lows get too low.” Her favorite barrel racer right now is Tanna Poppino. “She is a neat person and can talk to people about what they need to do in the arena to get better. She is strong in her faith and easily gives her testimony through her barrel camps.” Tori loves how Tanna uses barrel racing as a new avenue to teach people about her faith.
Every time Tori runs a 19-second pole pattern, her heart swells with pride. “There is no greater feeling than hitting that time. Those are my proudest moments in the arena.” As a sophomore, Tori qualified for nationals in poles and did so again in both events this past year. “I have never done well at nationals, but I have walked away with a few saddles in both the OJRA and OYRA.” Tori finished the year in second in the OHSRA as a sophomore, but has yet to win the year end award for poles.
“The OHSRA are the best ran rodeos I have ever been to thanks to the directors, student officers, board, secretaries and everyone involved with them. Rodney Glenn can drag ground better than anybody I know.” Competing with people who also want to be their very best at their event are what drive Tori in the practice pen. “It is neat to be around other people my age at the top of our sport in our state. I call most of them my close friends.”
The Whitesboro High School senior used to play basketball but decided to focus on rodeo and her FFA chapter. “FFA has helped me build my confidence. It is not just about welding and raising cattle, those are two great aspects of it but there is a lot more to it.” This will be Tori’s second year as chapter president. She competes in public speaking, forestry judging and showing her sheep. “Our county fair is in February, so we don’t have sheep during the summer, allowing me to focus solely on rodeo.”
Tori has always loved science and helping people leading her to work towards becoming a physician’s assistant one day. “I hope to go to college on a rodeo scholarship and major in pre-med, so I can get into medical school.” Of course, Tori wants to continue barrel racing all her life. “It seems like everything I do the biggest thing for me to overcome is having enough confidence. I am a good enough rider and my horse is a good enough athlete. Someone can be the best and not truly believe it and then not do well because of it. Best advice that I have gotten is to practice like I am second best and perform like I am the best.”