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Meet the Member Kolby Stelly
story by Michele Toberer
Achieving world champion status is something many cowboys and cowgirls across the country dream of as they are in the practice pen. Earning two world champion titles within the same month for a sport that he’s dedicated his life to is something even Kolby Stelly can still hardly believe has just happened for him. Just a week prior to winning the 2020 National High School Rodeo Association’s World Champion Bull Riding title as a junior in high school, Kolby had already clinched the 2020 NLBRA World Champion Senior Boy’s Bull Riding title in the same Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. “Having the success that I did the week prior to the national high school finals was an extra confidence booster and made me realize going into the competition that I could win it!”
From Sulphur, Louisiana, Kolby is the only son of Glenda and Tim Stelly. He has an older sister, Alexis that high school rodeoed and a younger sister, Makayla who competes in the junior high division of LHSRA. Both Glenda, who cleans houses, and Tim, an office manager for the railroad company, were once LHSRA competitors. Glenda competed as a barrel racer, and Tim as a team roper, tie down roper, and steer wrestler. Kolby started out riding sheep, calves, steers, and in junior high competed in just about every event offered. When he moved on to high school, he made the decision to focus on riding bulls. “I wanted to go to as many rodeos as I could every weekend; it was a lot easier to jump in a truck and get to another rodeo to get on a bull all weekend without having to haul a horse.”
Although it takes a village and many have helped Kolby over the years, his dad has been his main source of encouragement and help in the bucking pen. Tim’s brother, Billy Stelly, rode bulls in high school, and although Tim stayed on the timed events side, he paid a lot of attention to the bull riding his brother did, as well as watching videos and taking Kolby to bull riding schools over the years. Kolby is also appreciative to Jordan Sammons, who helped him get a good start in riding when he was younger and helped him practice as his skills grew. Kolby owns about 20 practice bulls and generally rides 2 or 3 every Tuesday night. Other days he’ll ride his drop barrel or bucking machine to slow things down and focus on his fundamentals.
Starting his senior year as a homeschooler, Kolby is looking forward to making every effort to achieve as much success this year as he has this past season. He has qualified for national finals each year of rodeo with LHSRA so far and was glad to break the pattern of getting bucked off at nationals. Now, he’s ready to keep the pattern of winning going. “I think this year I had more experience going in and was ready for the competition. I tried to just stay to myself and not watch everyone ride, I tried to not overthink it and just ride each bull.” Kolby was a 76.5 on his first bull, placing him third place in the first round at the NHSFR. His second bull was his favorite ride, and he scored a 76, repeating his 3rd place finish in round 2. “My second bull was a Chad Smith bull and I felt like I rode him better, it was my favorite ride that week.” Coming into the short round in the top position, Kolby had to wait until the end, knowing that only a couple could pass him if they got a score. It was a good feeling to finally sit down on his short round bull, knowing that whether he scored or not, he had just won the world title. He bucked off of his short round bull, but was victorious nonetheless, and was grateful to receive his awards including a Yeti ice chest, Slone Saddlery saddle, buckle, scholarships, and average money. His main goals for this next year are to do it all again.
Kolby has worked as a heavy equipment operator for Diamond D Industries for the past year-and-a-half years and looks forward to stepping into the professional rodeo ranks once his high school career is over.