story by Lindsay Humphrey In the three years Chizm Kuykendall competed in the ribbon roping in the OKJHSRA, he never had the same partner two […]
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Meet the Member Grace Collins
story by Lindsay Humphrey
For as long as Milburn, Oklahoma, native Grace Collins can remember, she’s wanted to rodeo on the collegiate level. Although she’s always been an equestrian, and the occasional barrel racer, she’s a fairly new face to the world of rodeo. “A lot of my mom’s friends used to rodeo a lot. We were sitting in the truck one day when they told me to tie the aux cord like it was for a goat. I did it and they told me I should try goat tying,” said the 17-year-old. Harboring natural athleticism proved beneficial when Grace was learning how to dismount her horse at full throttle. The actual tying aspect, however, was a bit more difficult. “I didn’t start tying until I was about 14. It was especially difficult because I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve worked with some college girls to learn more and I’ve helped other kids which has improved my tying in the process.”
This Tishomingo High School senior enjoys goat tying the most, but also competes in breakaway roping and barrels. She’s come to realize that if “you’re not fast, you don’t need to be there [OHSRA].” The other OHSRA competitors have pushed Grace to work hard, that’s for certain. “I really like that. I also like that there are a lot of girls to tie and rope against. I’ve met a lot of people from all over Oklahoma that I never would’ve known if I hadn’t done high school rodeo.” Of course, rodeo naturally connects people with a common interest. Grace has found this to be true for the last four years at the IFYR.
There’s no question in Grace’s mind that the IFYR is her favorite event. “There is so much going on there all at one time and so many people from all over the world. I really like all the jackpots afterward; they are a ton of fun. It’s kind of just a big party the whole time.” Grace admits the shopping is also quite the experience, she compared it to Cowboy Christmas at the NFR. Hailing from Mississippi is Kaylee Traylor, Grace’s best friend whom she met at the IFYR. “I really love all the people I’ve met through rodeo; they are all so neat.” Many of those people Grace met through rodeo have either played large roles in developing her skills in various events or got her started in the first place.
“Travis Simmons, Cierra Doyal and Kelly Elmore have all been a big help to me. They’ve been in the practice pen with me countless times and they’re always there to help me when I mess up so I can improve.” Those core influences in Grace’s rodeo career have been instrumental in improving the current trajectory of her final season. “Last year I went into state finals in the 12th hole and I had a good chance of making nationals if I could just keep three goats down. Well, I didn’t and ever since I’ve just gone downhill.” Grace’s main focus for the spring is to get back where she was last year. “My mindset has been off, and my nerves have been getting to me really bad lately. And my groundwork could use some touch ups also.”
Time in the practice pen, Grace admits, is her current downfall. She’s taking all college-level classes this year and is in her final season of cheering for her high school team. “Cheerleading takes up a lot of time, but it is fun. It’s not something I ever saw myself doing, but here we are. The best part is getting to wear the red lipstick,” Grace said with a sly laugh. With practice three times a week and now three basketball games a week, Grace has a lot to balance. “It will be a bit of a relief when I’m done so I can focus on roping and tying. I think maybe that’s part of why my focus is off.” As Grace gets closer to graduation, her mind is on the next chapter of her life, but she’s also relishing every last minute she has at home with her mom, Tina Russell. “I’m so glad I was able to grow up with such a supportive and amazing mom. I also want to thank Western Edge for sponsoring me.”