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Meet the Member Alyssa Culpepper
story by Michele Toberer
Alyssa Culpepper’s competition took a big turn four years ago, when she switched from competition cheerleading to becoming a rodeo competitor. Although she enjoyed competing with her cheer team, having an equine team partner to fine tune her skills and compete with has been a change she doesn’t regret. “Alyssa is pretty hard-driven and when she sets her mind on something, she goes for it. When we get to a rodeo, she is only focused on competing,” explained Alyssa’s mom, Angela Culpepper. Angela is a homemaker and Alyssa’s dad, Justin Culpepper, works in the oilfields. The family lives in Heflin, Louisiana, and Alyssa has an older sister, Taylor, and a younger brother, Caden. Alyssa is in her first year of competition with the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association and really enjoyed the fall rodeos this season.
Attending Lakeside High School as a sophomore, Alyssa’s favorite classes are Spanish and World Geography. She is very active at the school as the president of student council, and is involved in the yearbook committee, the leadership team, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I always liked horses and had a friend from church, Amy Litton, that introduced us to Amanda Cruse, who helped me find my first horse, a 19-year-old palomino gelding named Charlie.” Alyssa began taking lessons with Amanda and competing in playdays and junior rodeos as a barrel racer and pole bender. Four years ago, Alyssa began training with Margie DeMoss who encouraged her to join the LHSRA this year, where her daughter, Darbi, is also a competing member of the junior high division. “In June, we bought an 11-year-old bay mare named Chick and I’ve had so much fun riding her in the LHSRA so far this season. We’re doing pretty good in barrels, Chick and I actually won the last LHSRA rodeo, and we’re still figuring out the poles!”
Alyssa is glad that she joined the LHSRA and is hopeful that she can qualify for the national high school finals rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska for her rookie season. She loves riding with Margie and Darbi, and appreciates all of the help and encouragement the friends give her. “I love riding with them because they know how to break things down so that I understand. They also make it fun and remind me that we’re not just there to win at a rodeo, it is about having fun while you’re competing also.” Alyssa recently attended a barrel racing clinic put on by Michelle McCloud in Elm Grove, Louisiana, where she learned many practices and drills that can help her, as well as the importance of good horsemanship.
Alyssa likes to deer hunt during the season when she has time. After graduating, Alyssa would like to go to Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas so that she can be a part of the college rodeo team while studying to eventually become an equine chiropractor.
“Competing in rodeo is a lot different than competing in cheer. The adrenaline is the same, but rodeo is so much more relaxed and friendly. I really like it better and am so grateful to be a part of the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association.”