story by Lindsay Humphrey As an eighth grader who’s also a rookie in the NMJHSRA, Kassidy Lightfoot is setting her sights on making an appearance […]
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Meet the Member Kye Saulsberry
story by Lindsay King
“I wanted to learn how to rope because it was something that my dad (Todd) enjoyed and then I ended up really liking it too,” said Kye Saulsberry. Her dad was a professional tie-down roper in his younger days. He’s probably taught Kye the most about roping, riding and rodeo. The 14-year-old was only four when she started running barrels at local playdays. “I was probably eight when I started learning how to rope on the dummy. He taught me how to chase a calf around the arena and rope a bit before we moved into learning how to come out of the box.” Not only does Kye rope in the breakaway, she is also a runner in the ribbon roping and ties goats in the NMJHSRA. This eighth grader plays volleyball and basketball at Melrose Public Schools, but they don’t hold a candle to rodeo.
The hardest part about competing for Kye is learning how to balance everything. “I do a lot of different things, so I just work really hard. I go to school, then basketball practice and after that I rope and ride horses.” Kye doesn’t usually get home from town until about 7 and immediately heads outside to get saddled. Trisha, Kye’s mom, helps her keep everything balanced. Her siblings – Trip, 10, Kennis, 9, and Kayson, 7 – also contribute to keeping everything going when the family gets busy.
“They help me stay motivated to work hard and continue practicing. They always tell me that you have to try your hardest to be the best.” Now that Kye is older and can do most of the physical work of rodeo, she relies on her support system for their advice. “They help me get mentally ready and figure out the things I need to keep working on to get better.” Kye knows there is always room for improvement and feels like this is her year to make some leaps and bounds as both a roper and goat tier. “I feel like I can be a lot better than I am right now. I want to push myself more than I ever have.” Right now the times to beat are 9 seconds in the goats and a low 2 in the breakaway.
Even though Kye competes in the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association, she also enjoys spending time with her friends who rodeo in the NMJHSRA. “It’s really competitive and I like that. I really like being around the people because they are all so nice and are just like me.” Both associations have given Kye the opportunity to travel both in and out of state. She has experienced new places and people as a result. “One thing I have really learned from rodeo is how to be more social. I have always been a really shy person and going to rodeos has helped me open up.”
These social skills will come in handy if Kye’s plans to become either a physical therapist or a doctor hold true as she gets older. “I want to be a kidney doctor because one of mine doesn’t work very well and I want to help people like me.” This is of course after going to college and competing with a rodeo team. Until then, Kye is focused on being a positive role model for her younger siblings as she blazes the rodeo trail for their generation. “It is a lot of work with all of us being in rodeo. It is fun too.” The siblings go to a lot of the same rodeos, but sometimes Kye is the only one competing and vice versa. “I like being the older sibling and being their role model. I have to prove myself so they can learn to be like me.”