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Meet the Member Joy Hawks
story by Lori O’Harver
Joy Hawks should need no introduction. She’s an innovator and businesswoman who’s been on the frontline of many efforts to advance horsemanship, women’s rodeo sports and social entrepreneurship. She’s also the 1997 Professional Women’s Rodeo Association World Champion Bareback Rider, reserve champion bull rider and reserve all-around cowgirl.
Retirement has never been in her vocabulary while cracking back out has always had a seductive quality that she finds irresistible. That’s how she ended up with a hack rein in her hand and almost a perfect record of covering everything they’ve run under her in the Texas Bronc Rider’s Association. Almost, however, has never been good enough for Hawks.
“Back in the PWRA days, Billie Halverson and I traveled and roomed together when we rode bulls,” said Hawks. “Billie’s injuries and my family and business concerns slowed us down, not to mention the dissolution of the PWRA. I’d ridden a few ranch broncs before, did well and liked it. When Billie told me about the TBRA’s Women’s Ranch Bronc Riding, I entered up.”
“I’m always about an adrenalin rush,” Hawks laughed. “But what I’m more about is getting myself and other dynamic people out of their comfort zones. I’m 46, strong and think bucking horses are a blast!”
The veteran champ is more than another contestant behind the bucking chutes. She’s a mentor, a confidante, a coach, cheerleader and saving grace to the young, mostly twenty-something cowgirls who have found themselves on the leading edge of a groundswell movement returning women to the roughstock end of the arena.
“There’s nothing not to love about the tough riders I compete with. They’re tough, gritty and all looking to step up their games,” said Hawks. “I’ve come to admire and respect every one of them and sure have a lot of the same for TBRA President Daryl McElroy and his hard-working wife, Michelle. Those two have not only created a unique platform for competition but have put literally everything into it. The ladies event might have started as a publicity ploy for their first finals, but since then it’s taken on a life of its own. I’ve worked with the McElroy’s. They have invested every bit of their spare time, money, blood, sweat and tears to make this event viable for the women who now call them their rodeo parents. It might have been business to start but it’s evolved into a labor of love. When passion like theirs is involved, it’s hard to hold a project back.”
“I’ve seen the effect having Joy in their company has on the girls,” said McElroy. “They’ve found not just a sister, but a mentor and living, breathing touchstone in her. Most of them are too young to remember much about the PWRA. When they first started nodding for bucking horses, they felt like they might be inventing the wheel. Joy is always there to assist, to laugh with and lead the pack. Leadership is another one of her strong suits. She’s an honor to have with us.”
Last season, Hawks got on and rode a total of three horses in the TBRA. This season, she’s been on four and bucked off one. It’s the one that got her that got her. She crawled out of the dirt, walked straight up to McElroy and said, “Where’s the next one and when do entries open?”
To learn more about the TBRA, please visit www.txbroncriders.com