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 Lily Weinacht
The rodeo lifestyle has been home to Will Bradley ever since he was growing up. He started out in the stands, watching his uncles rope, and as soon as he was old enough, he joined them in the arena. Today, the 28-year-old from Corinth, Mississippi, competes in the SPRA in tie-down roping and team roping, along with the occasional steer wrestling. He bought his card with the SPRA in 2012 and made their finals that year and every year since, while he’s currently leading the tie-down roping and all-around. “I like the camaraderie in the SPRA, and you know the calf when you go. It’s good to just stay around the house—4-5 hours is as far as we go.”
Prior to joining the SPRA, Will college rodeoed for Troy University in Alabama when they had a rodeo team, and he high school rodeoed for Tennessee for four years. He qualified for the NHSFR three times, and enjoyed serving as the NHSRA Vice President in 2008. “When I was growing up, my mom told me that I would get out of something what I put into it, and that stuck with me,” says Will. “The guys that helped me with my roping were Mitch Rinehart and Cliff Goodrich. They helped me with horses and my horsemanship and all the things that go into it. Mitch and I are like brothers, and we trained calf horses when we were in high school. I’ve always been a calf roper, and I like the horsemanship that goes with it. I’ve had my calf horse for 15 years, and she’s probably worked the best this year that she ever has.”
Will did much of the training on Billie Mae, and she carried him through all four years of high school rodeo and even the NHSFR, while he college rodeoed for Troy University in Alabama when they had a rodeo team. He’s also competed in the IPRA. “I rode Billie Mae a bunch in college, and my wife can rope calves on her and I can heel on her too. She’s always given me a little trouble in the corner, but the past couple of months, she’s just backed right in there,” he says.
It was a horse that originally brought Will and his wife, Kaitlin, together. Six or seven years ago, Kaitlin was preparing to sing the national anthem at the SPRA rodeo her family puts on at the Iron Rail Arena in Moulton, Alabama, but her horse wouldn’t enter the arena. “I didn’t know who she was, but I told her to get on my horse—I was just trying to help a little girl out,” Will recalls. “She told her mom later that she’d found her knight in shining armor. It wasn’t until five or six years later that we started dating, and I proposed to her at that same rodeo in Moulton, Alabama.” Will and Kaitlin got married this February, and now they travel to all their rodeos together. Kaitlin is sitting in the top 15 of the SPRA breakaway roping and the top 20 of barrel racing. “It’s been fun getting to rodeo together, and to have somebody to be with you in your corner and at your side,” says Will.
During the week, he’s a territory sales manager for Durango Boots, and he travels throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and northern Florida. “I’ve been in the industry since 2012, and before that, I was a sales rep. for Tin Haul.” Will learned about the opportunity through a friend, whom he high school rodeoed with, and her husband. He also enjoys golfing with friends or fishing with his brother, along with being as active as possible in his and Kaitlin’s church.
“Next year I’m going to try to make the IFR in the calf roping,” Will finishes. “One of my goals this year is to try and win the calf roping in the SPRA, and I have a five-year-old mare I’m trying to get ready to rodeo on next year. Those are my goals, and I try to set them where I can reach them.”
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