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Meet the Member Gracie Pokorny
story by Ryan Johnson
Gracie Pokorny made it to her first National Junior High Finals this past June, qualifying in the pole bending and ending the rodeo in fourth place. The 13-year-old from Bartlett, Neb., competes in goat tying and breakaway roping as well. The horse that is taking her into the arena is Blue Rhone, ‘Blue.’ The 14-year-old gelding has been in the family for seven years. She rides Chief for breakaway and Pearl for goat tying.
Gracie has grown up on a ranch in Bartlett, and the whole family rodeos. Her sister, Talli, 15, competes in breakaway, goat tying and roping while nine-year-old brother, Ryder, competes in goats, flag racing and eventually will start roping too. Gracie’s mother is the NJHRSA secretary, Brandi Pokorny, and was a goat tyer and roper throughout high school and in college. Dad, Doug, the NJHRSA National Director, also ropes and did so throughout his entire high school and college career.
Gracie’s parents were approached a couple years ago about heading the NJHSRA and both have been in their roles for one year. “The NJHSRA is a really good organization for kids to get started and to prepare them for high school. Doug and I wanted to continue the association and wanted to make sure it stayed up and running.” Brandi said.
When Gracie isn’t busy practicing pole bending or helping her parents on the ranch working cows she finds time to play both basketball and volleyball for her junior high teams. And she doesn’t sacrifice time for one activity over another, “Our school has combined sports so we have to travel for practice. After practice I come home and ride my horse and practice (rodeo).”
Having the chance to compete in the NJHFR was a great opportunity for Pokorny and her biggest accomplishment yet, “I was most proud of making it to Nationals. That was fun and exciting.”
As a competitor at heart she found that out of all the aspects of going to a national finals rodeo the most enjoyable part was doing what she loves most, “The best part was probably competing in one of my favorite events. The first run was a good run and the second was good but I hit a pole.” She managed to stay cool-headed. “I guess I got a little nervous but usually in a rodeo I get a little nervous.”
Gracie and family spend a lot of time traveling between rodeos and she has her ways of dealing with the long drives, “Sometimes we watch movies while driving or on a school day we do school work.” Gracie doesn’t have a favorite movie but the Pokorny family has one film series they are fond of, “We all watch the Fast and Furious movies together.” she said.
The Pokorny family is very involved in rodeoing and especially being active in the NJHSRA but Gracie sees being a member as a gateway to doing what she loves. “The best part of that is just being able to rodeo and enjoy the stuff I am doing.”
Pokorny’s last rodeo was near the end of June but it won’t be long before she’ll be competing this fall as a seasoned eighth-grader. With only weeks away until the new season starts she is sharpening her skills once again by putting more time in, “I’ll be competing in fall rodeos. I’ll be practicing more and riding my horses more to be ready.” Gracie’s focus for the upcoming rodeo season is to once again compete in nationals and as an upcoming eighth grader she plans to stay on the honor roll.