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Meet the Member Emma Kate Hyatt
story by Michele Toberer
As a third-generation cowgirl from Bay Minette, Alabama, Emma Kate Hyatt was destined to be a rodeo athlete from the beginning. Her mom, Krystal Johnson, an LPN nurse who is now a homemaker, used to barrel race; and Emma’s grandmother, “Nana” Sandy Johnson competed in rodeo as well. Emma started out competing as a kindergartner; first barrel racing, and then adding in pole bending and goat tying. But as a 5th grader she was determined to start roping so she could compete against the boys, and she hasn’t stopped yet. “I competed in the Alabama Junior High School Rodeo Association and was the state champion breakaway roper in 2011 and 2012, as a 7th and 8th grader. Although she continued to compete in barrel racing, breakaway roping became her main focus over the years. “Breakaway roping is my favorite event and that will probably never change. I’ve picked up team roping but mostly play around with it. Having a rope in my hands suits my personality much more than turning three barrels.”
After graduating from Excel High School in Excel, Alabama in 2016, Emma Kate worked for her dad’s (Jason Hyatt) sand and gravel business, as a heavy equipment operator for a few years, and also worked at a local western store. She’s currently working as a traveling bookkeeper for a company out of Orange, Texas. “I keep up with the employees’ hours and payroll, and I like to travel so it works well for me. Often, I can hit some rodeos in the areas we are working in, so that really works out good for me too.” Emma plans to go to school to become a dental assistant, possibly furthering her education to become a dental hygienist in the future.
“I learned about the Southeastern Professional Rodeo Association last year and have loved being a member this season. My goal was to try to make the finals this year, and right now I’m in the top 10 breakaway ropers in the SPRA, so I’m feeling good about reaching that goal.” Emma isn’t currently competing on her own horse, so she even more thankful for her success, because of good friends being so kind to let her use their horses to compete on. Emma is looking forward to continuing to rodeo in the SPRA and would especially like winning a rookie title for her first season with them.
Emma is very grateful to her family for pushing her to be the best she could be. When she started roping, they had Nicole McMillan come to their arena two to three times each week for nearly two years to make sure she had a good start. “My parents said if they were going to spend the money on rodeo, they were going to make sure I had the help I needed to be the best, and Nicole taught me everything I needed.” Emma also appreciates her brother, Jaron Hyatt, 15, sister, McKenzie Hyatt, 16, and Nana, and Papa, Fred Johnson, “They have traveled as far as New Mexico to watch me compete and are big supporters of mine for sure.”
Emma also gives credit to professional cowgirls like Jackie Crawford. “I’ve always looked up to her and she’s my main influence that showed me to never give up on anything no matter what. It’s because of her never giving up that we get to compete at the American Rodeo and so many larger stages now, and we have a chance to make it bigger in the rodeo industry than was ever possible before. Jackie worked hard and showed them what we can do, so it’s given us breakaway ropers more of a future. Some of us cowgirls don’t’ want to run three cans.”