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Meet The Member Kenna Kaminski
story by Lindsay Humphrey
A life on the road is about all Kenna Kaminski has known since she grew up in the backseat of a pickup getting hauled around the WPRA circuit while her mom, Kelly, qualified for the NFR. As a result of this nomad existence, Kenna was homeschooled most of her life. She continued that tradition through college when she earned her degree in business administration from Sam Houston State University entirely online. “As I got older, mom slowed down a bit but I wanted to keep homeschooling so I could focus on my horses more,” said the Bellville, Texas, barrel racer. “I continued to do that through college and then it worked out well that I could help mom with the KK Productions.” It was in 2016 that Kenna’s mom was approached about producing qualifier events for what was then known as the Jr NFR. The name has since changed to the Junior World Finals and it’s grown exponentially.
“I believe we only had six qualifiers that first year and now we have 31 qualifying races every year. We only had about six months to pull everything together for that first year .” Before becoming the director of KK Productions, Kelly was a professional barrel racer but even before that she was a school teacher. “Mom has always loved working with kids, and running these qualifiers let her incorporate both of her loves: horses and teaching.” Kenna and Kelly have always been a team and that’s become even more evident the longer they work together. While Kelly is the director of KK Productions, Kenna is the woman behind the curtain. “I do a little bit of everything. I help run the office, take care of memberships, a lot of the paperwork and anything on the computer.”
Now in their seventh year of running KK Productions, Kenna and Kelly have watched some of rodeo’s toughest competitors on the circuit today grow up. “A lot of our contestants have gone on to run as professionals and it’s neat that just five years ago they were running with us. With the contestants who’ve been with us from the beginning, we’ve gotten to watch them mature as people and see them grow in their riding skills.” Kenna was fresh out of high school when they first started and she didn’t expect to enjoy watching the contestants essentially grow up in rodeo through their organization.
The increased number of qualifiers in a year is a testament to how much the KK Run for Vegas events have grown. And so is the competition. “We have a point system for the contestants who compete at our events. The top two winners in both the barrels and poles at a qualifying event automatically go to Vegas, but anybody who places earns points. At the end of the season, I add up those points and the top ten high point earners get to go to Vegas.” The point system was created to help more contestants have a shot at going to Vegas. Qualifying by winning first or second at an event hasn’t proven to be the best way to win it all in Vegas. It’s anybody’s game under the bright lights of Vegas when the slate gets wiped clean. “Rodeo is a marathon, not a sprint. And we think the point system gives everyone an equal opportunity to qualify.”
Contestants often mention Kelly by name when talking about their experience at a KK Production. Kenna said her mom has a natural talent for working with kids and that comes across best when they’re in Vegas. “My mom wants everyone to leave Vegas with something and to make sure they have a good time while they’re there; we both want what’s best for all of them.” Now a professional herself, Kenna has also grown up in rodeo. She’s running in the Mountain States Circuit this year and following almost exactly in her mom’s footsteps.