Judy Wagner is a storyteller. Growing up on a ranch in Montana nurtured her appreciation for the beauty and brevity of life, all while giving […]
ProFile: Brenda Youtsey Reay
Written by: Andrea Stevens< Back to Articles
Brenda Youtsey Reay was the first girl to win the National High School Finals rodeo in the team roping in 1986. “I’m happy for all the kids that win the high school finals – -it pays for college educations as well as is a great honor for all kids.” Brenda’s story was quite similar to Quincy’s. “I started the year roping with Skeeter Duby and we were having a phenomenal year – everything seemed to be clicking for us and we were having an amazing year. Unfortunately, Skeeter got hurt – he injured his knee on the chute practicing and that accident ended Skeeter’s run at Nationals and forced me to find another partner. I was lucky enough to find a partner and ended the year roping with Brett Kamm. We ended up winning third in the state and qualified for Nationals. At state finals, my number one head horse also suffered an injury so I had one month to practice and decide what horse I wanted to ride at nationals. At that time I had a nice heel horse that was also my barrel horse that I thought scored very well and so I decided to ride him.” In 1986, the high school finals were held in Rapid City , South Dakota. “While traveling to Nationals, Brett’s horse got over the divider in the trailer so he had to ride one of his friend’s horses.” She attributes that win to setting specific goals, creating an action plan and a large amount of resilience. “My health teacher was teaching goal setting so I actually called the National office my freshman year to see if there had ever been a girl who had won the nation. After finding out there had not been, I set the goal to be the first girl to win the Nation. I actually still have my goal sheet and I wrote that long-term goal down and stuck to my short term goals to meet the end result.”
Brenda grew up in Applegate, a small farming community outside Grants Pass, Oregon. Her dad (Jay Youtsey) was a calf roper, team roper and built Westline Horse Trailers, a custom horse trailer business which were some of the first living quarters in the 1970s. “We ran cattle, raised some horses, built horse trailers and did a lot of bass fishing. My mom, Beverley was a ranch wife and helped with the horse trailers.” Brenda competed in volleyball, basketball, track along with rodeoing in high school. When she graduated, she went to Blue Mountain Community College where she played volleyball, basketball and rodeoed. She also attended Eastern Oregon University and then obtained a degree in health and physical education from Southern Oregon State College. She has been a Health and Physical Education teacher for 29 years, 27 of them at Homedale Middle school. During her time in education she has been a volleyball, basketball and track coach. In 2017 Brenda was Idaho’s Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
Brenda amateur rodeoed and attended local ropings with her family until her two boys, Bryan and Tyler became old enough to be involved in rodeo and sports. Along with her husband of 30 years, Mike they both focused on their kid’s development in school, sports and all of their other activities. “I became a mom and focused on my family and my career. At some point you realize your children are your biggest asset and your energy is focused on them. Watching both my boys compete and be successful was one of the biggest gifts I have ever been given.” She spent her time keeping their horses in shape, running the chute, untying calves and making sure they were focused on their education. “It was their turn to shine.” Mike was also an athlete and played college basketball, but always enjoyed the rodeo community and lifestyle and now he’s turned into a roper. “We have an arena at our house in Adrian as well as a family place in Morristown, Arizona and we all continue to rope together. We always say—the Family that ropes together-Stays Together!
Only a few years from retirement, Brenda has spent many of her adult years giving service to others in the rodeo world. That included serving as the secretary for the Idaho Junior High Division for ten years. She also serves as the vice president of the Idaho Girls Rodeo Association, which she has been part of off and on since moving to Eastern Oregon. The Idaho Girls Rodeo Association has been around for 65 years, offering a place for competitors to compete side by side with their grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and nieces. She won the all around last year, competing in pole bending, barrel racing, team roping, steer stopping, and steer daubing and goat tying. Although it wasn’t her intention to start pole bending or doing the other events she entered so her and her eight year old niece, Jayne could rodeo together. This year Jayne started roping and won a new event to the association which was the dummy sled breakaway roping. ‘I am very excited to see Jayne get her first buckle and even more excited that she won it on Tyler’s old calf horse.’
Brenda had a minor set this spring after recently getting bucked off “I got bucked off super hard – I fractured my back and ended up with contusions on my liver and lungs. Unfortunately, that put me out for a few weeks. At 18 that isn’t a big deal but at 51 that’s not fun and probably the most disappointing part of being bucked off not once but twice within 8 weeks. However, one thing that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have lived with epilepsy since I was 16 years old. I figure if I can handle that set back I can handle getting bucked off a couple of times. But in all seriousness, I am grateful I wasn’t hurt worse and extremely grateful my son, Bryan loaned me his good horse so I could rope in the Idaho Girl’s Rodeo Finals last weekend.
Brenda is still coaching and teaching and most importantly loves sharing her passion for competing, sports and lifetime wellness with her students.
“I love everything about the rural lifestyle- we are blessed to live in an amazing rodeo heavy neighborhood – My bucket is full of gratitude and continued opportunity to grow as a person. I feel we can all choose our attitude in life and are in complete control of making that happen on a daily basis. From my family, career, to amazing life-long friends as well as ability to follow my dreams I have been a very lucky girl” she concludes. “I’ve very goal driven and that will always be how I am hard wired. I honestly never thought I couldn’t achieve something. At the end of the day, winning the nation never defined who I was but it did pave the road for me to realize how much is within our reach if we simply have the dedication, attitude, and desire to put in the work it takes to reach our goals.’