story by Mackie Ford I caught up with Haze Kuykendall, an Oklahoma Junior High School Rodeo Association member and son of Justin and Mandie Kuykendall, […]
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Meet the Member Brookelynne Whitfield
story by Lindsay King
“I just like to ride and be there with everyone. Is like a big family, it is home,” said Tipton, Oklahoma, cowgirl Brookelynne Whitfield about her place in the OKJHSRA. It all came to a close when this 14-year-old made her first trip to nationals and promptly transitioned to high school rodeo. Brookelynne is a first-generation rodeo competitor thanks to her maternal grandparents Frank and Carolyn Allen. “Neither of my parents (Patrick and LaKasta) rode or competed at rodeos, but my mom makes sure my entry fees are paid. They always have faith in me and push me to be my best.”
Brookelynne actually regards all of her friends and competitors in junior high rodeo as her role models. “They all really introduced me to rodeo and I have learned a lot from them.” Two friends that stand out to Brookelynne are Camree Slavin and Chizm Kuykendall. “They both helped me a lot when I first started and showed me everything.” Meeting new people while spending time family and friends is the pinnacle of rodeo for Brookelynne. “Rodeo has taught me a lot about relying on my family but also how to be independent. It’s a one-person thing so you need to have faith in yourself to be good.”
“My papa has ridden ever since he was little and team roped a lot. I went with him all the time and I finnally decided I wanted to rope.” That was in the fifth grade. Playdays with her grandparents got the rodeo game started and then they were introduced to the OKJHSRA. “My grandparents said that when I got into the sixth grade, we could do junior high rodeos.” Until then, Brookelynne kept herself busy with the HOYRA. She won the all-around cowgirl title in the HOYRA earlier in 2019 and prior to state finals it was the best she’s ever done at a rodeo. Brookelynne picked up barrels, poles, breakaway and ribbon roping. Her favorite is breakaway though. “Ever since I started learning the event I always get really nervous and excited when I back into the box.” Her grandparents have raised all of Brookelynne’s horses and taught her a majority of the fundamental skills that she has. Her papa turned to Gail Turner almost three years ago to obtain the horse Brookelynne now breakaway ropes on.
Brookelynne entered the state finals as the number one breakaway roper, but she wasn’t far enough ahead of everyone else to relax. “I knew I needed to stay focused and catch. I was just consistent enough to stay in the top five for each round that I was able to win it all.” Barrels was a bit of a different story. “I came in to state in the 20th hole and I was consistent enough each day that I ended up in tenth place. I was pretty proud of myself for both events. It showed me that I was pretty good and could get where I wanted to be.” Going forward, Brookelynne is taking the sport more seriously and has realized it’s what she wants to do most in life.
“At nationals I was really nervous but I just got out there to catch and have fun.” After a scorching fast first run, Brookelynne second-guessed herself and went into the short round with seven seconds flat on two head. “I was seventh high call back and as I backed into the box I knew I had to push myself.” She finished nationals with an aggregate time of 9.93 seconds on three head which put her third in the round, average and overall. Seeing her name on the big screen at the future stars roping was when it all hit Brookelynne that she was right where she needed to be. As she enters freshman year at Navajo Public Schools this fall, Brookelynne will be even more thankful for rodeo. “Rodeo has helped me become more social because I have had to meet so many new people every weekend. I have become more outgoing and less withdrawn because of rodeo.”