story by Lindsay Humphrey Few father son duos have collected more Linderman Awards than Chip and Kyle Whitaker of Chambers, Nebraska. Kyle alone has 10 […]
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Meet the Member Shawnee Sherwood
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Escaping the scorching Arizona heat each summer led Shawnee Sherwood and her family north. They eventually landed in Nebraska and discovered one of the few associations that offers mixed team roping. “We like to get out of Arizona in the summer because it’s so hot. I did high school rodeo in Idaho because my mom, Leigh, is from there. We used to rodeo in Wyoming and Montana a lot, but then my dad, Steve, started roping with a guy from Nebraska about three years ago,” said the Central Arizona College student. A team roping family through and through, Shawnee’s been throwing a head loop since she was 7 years old.
Competing at nationals three times, once in 8th grade and twice in high school, helped prepare Shawnee for her college and amateur rodeo career. At the 2020 BFI, Shawnee and her mixed team roping partner for both the M-SRA and NSRA, Clay Elkington, took home third place in the number 12 roping. They pocketed a cool $25,000 a piece. “That was very exciting. We’ve been practicing together a lot through the winter and we’ve gotten pretty good as a team.” Now in her fourth college rodeo season, Shawnee’s ready to make a run for the CNFR.
“My main goal is to make it to nationals in both of my events. There weren’t a lot of rodeos this summer because of the virus, so I just need to stay sharp. Entering as many rodeos as I can is going to really help me in that.” Although Shawnee hasn’t had the best year in the breakaway roping in the M-SRA, she was sitting in the top ten in the mixed team roping before the finals. Her sights were set on winning the year-end average.
Even though Shawnee was raised in a team roping family, she didn’t escape the pull of breakaway roping. In fact, it was a natural fit when Shawnee was looking for another event in junior high. “I enjoy breakaway roping more, but I would consider myself a more consistent header. I’ve practiced and competed in team roping more, so I have more confidence in it.” The growing difficulty of breakaway roping is a draw for Shawnee who doesn’t back down from a challenge.
“With breakaway becoming so big, it’s a super exciting time but you have to stay on top of your game. It’s really easy to get into a slump and get down on yourself and frustrated. That’s something I work on a lot and think is really important.” As the sport of rodeo continues to grow, Shawnee recognizes that her generation is always climbing a mountain as the competition gets tougher every day. “I’m a very competitive person. Even when I win, I want to keep working harder.” There’s a lot to love about rodeo for Shawnee, but she’s partial to the training side of things. “I love my horses and I enjoy training them and just riding in general. It’s something you have to work at.”
Shawnee is a self-proclaimed rodeo gypsy, simply going where the wind blows. Her roots are in Arizona while she continues to compete for her college rodeo team, but it’s anyone’s guess where she goes from there. “When I first went to college, I wanted to do the dental hygiene program. After I got my general classes done, I looked into the program and realized it would be really time consuming and I wanted to be able to finish college rodeo first.” Right now, Shawnee is taking classes focused on agriculture. “I think I’d like to train rope horses eventually. I’m not much of a planner though, I just go with the flow. I’m just super grateful to have the opportunity to rodeo with my family, that’s big for me. My dad has been a super big influence in my rodeo career.”