Meet the Member AJae Griffin
story by Michele Toberer Anna Jae Griffin goes by AJae, and the Mississippi native has been a cowgirl for a lifetime, and a Southeastern Professional […]
story by Michele Toberer
There are many words of encouragement a roper might have on their mind as they enter the roping box, but as Wil Payton, of Hogansville, Georgia, backs into the box he quotes Psalms 91 in his mind every time. “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Rodeo is quite the family affair for the Paytons, as his older sister Bailey, and younger brothers, Mercer and Gunter, all rope and compete in rodeos. Wil’s older sister, Lauren Pringle, competes as a barrel racer. Wil and his siblings have lived in Hogansville, Georgia since their parents, Reece and Tina Payton, purchased their 200-acre farm about 10 years ago.
Wil started roping when he was 7, but really got serious about it when he was about 11. Tony Maccay was instrumental in helping both Wil and his dad start roping, especially helping Wil with his horsemanship. Will spent many hours roping the dummy and watching videos to hone his roping skills as he was starting out. The family has a roping arena and steers at their farm, so you can find the family, plus an assortment of friends, roping there three to four days a week. Wil competed in the Georgia High School Rodeo Association his junior and senior year as a header. He also competed in the West Georgia Junior Rodeo Association when his parents owned the association, and started entering SPRA rodeos during his senior year, in 2017.
At the Blairsville High School Rodeo last year, Wil met his fiancé, Emmie Camp, who was there to watch some of her friends compete. They were fairly inseparable from that night, and were engaged at Christmas, with their wedding planned for June 9, 2018. The wedding will take place on the Payton family farm, and they will begin their married life in the home they are building there on the farm. Emmie rides horses with Wil and they are slowly getting her ready to start barrel racing soon, as she’s also caught the rodeo bug.
Wil began working for his dad’s business, WRP Industrial Services, after graduating high school last year. They do industrial contracting, and Wil runs crews doing concrete work for the company during the week, leaving his weekends free to rodeo. He plans to take over the business one day when his dad retires.
His favorite rodeo is the Rockmart, Georgia rodeo where the header and heeler come out of the same box with a long score. “The steers are really hauling, we would have won last year if I could have gotten my dally, but it’s still my favorite rodeo because it’s so much fun.”
Wil has been fortunate to go to Rickey Green and Tyler Magnus clinics over the years and has incorporated things learned from both into his roping. “Rickey taught me a lot on the mental game, you are only as good as you allow yourself to be. The whole week he’d make us say ‘We are the greatest, that is a fact, even I didn’t know I could rope like that’. Tyler Magnus is a great horseman and taught us that roping was 20% rope and 80% horse, and I totally agree with that. You can rope the dummy all day long, but if you can’t ride the horse you can’t team rope.”
Wil has been heading and heeling on his black, 10-year-old gelding, Hoss, that he purchased from Randy King four years ago. “He’s a really smart horse and does anything I tell him. When I got him, he wouldn’t even go in the box, but he’s really good now, he learns fast and is really quick.” Wil would like to qualify and compete at the SPRA finals this year and doesn’t see his future ever being without rodeo. “I would like to thank my dad for hauling me to all those rodeos. I appreciate him and thank my family for supporting me. I plan to rodeo until the day I die.”
Above all, Wil thanks God, “I always pray to my Lord and Savior, ‘If I win I praise you, and if I lose I praise you, I give you the glory for all things good.’”
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