story by Lindsay Humphrey As a first-generation rodeo athlete, Abree Ensey and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, are figuring things out as they go along. They […]
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Meet the Member Brylee Zook
story by Michele Toberer
Eighth-grader, Brylee Zook, has recently joined the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Association and couldn’t be more excited about the new level of competition she finds herself in. The 13-year-old cowgirl has been rodeoing since she was 7 years old, and has competed in multiple youth rodeo associations during the past 6 years, but for now, her sights are set on doing all that she can to qualify for the national junior high finals rodeo that will be held in Des Moines, Iowa this June. Brylee is competing in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and ribbon roping during her rookie season with KJHSRA. In ribbon roping, Brylee is the roper for Curt Shannon, her main runner for this season.
Brylee competes on a tall bay gelding named Barney in ribbon roping and breakaway roping. “We’ve had Barney for 3 years, he’s 27 years old, and belonged to another rodeo family before we got him. He is older but does a great job for me every rodeo.” For barrel racing and pole bending, Brylee uses a 16-year-old white-faced sorrel mare named Curly. “I’m a little obsessed with roping, sometimes I sneak out at night to go rope the dummy up at the barn!”
The Zook family includes Brylee and her three younger siblings, Brekyn, 11, Britni, 7, and Kaxton, 18-months, and their parents, Erin and Justin Zook. Brekyn is a sixth grade KJHSRA rodeo competitor as well, and Britni competes in other junior rodeo associations. Erin works as a registered nurse, and Justin owns and operates Zook’s Excavating Company. Although both Erin and Justin grew up as country kids raised with livestock and horses, neither had rodeo in their background. After purchasing an old rodeo horse from Callie McGee, rodeo became a bigger part of their life than ever expected. “Callie helped me so much when I got started, and even now she is still a great mentor to me. If I have a good run, I always call Callie to talk about it, and if I have a bad run, I call Callie too. She and her dad, Brant McGhee, both have been such a blessing to me in rodeo.” Brylee is especially thankful to her dad who is constantly supporting her and helping her practice, and she can always rely on to push her calves for her.
Brylee attends Anderson County Junior-Senior High School, where her favorite subjects are her ag classes. She competes on the school’s basketball team and also is a cheerleader. She has been a member of 4-H and is serving as a junior officer in her 4-H club this year, as she also shows lambs, pigs, and poultry. With time to still make decisions for her future, at this point, rodeo is the only thing on her mind when she thinks of graduating from high school one day, and she hopes to travel the rodeo circuits competing at the professional level one day. Brylee’s favorite professional rodeo athletes to watch are Hailey Kinsel and Trevor Brazile. It was a highlight for her when she was able to Trevor personally a few years ago.
Brylee is grateful to both Wade Wilson and Vincent Ouellette for helping her with her rodeo events. Wade is a neighbor that has helped her over the years, and Vincent was an instructor at a bible rodeo camp she attended that has continued to help her with her skills.
Although the competition is pretty fierce in the KJHSRA, Brylee is really enjoying the association so far this year and works to keep her nerves calm at rodeos, “I tell my self to stay calm and don’t get too excited, and just remind myself to not overreact, and not to drop my elbow when I’m roping!”