The Greater Ashland Beacon
“It's boots and chaps
It's cowboy hats
It's spurs and latigo
It's the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo”
Boyd County High School seems to always be leading the way with new and fun things for its students to take part in. Most recently, Boyd County High School has formed a new after-school activity… a rodeo team. The formation of this team will be the first of its kind within the area. Julie Helton, Boyd County High School’s Rodeo Team Coach, shared with the Beacon, “This is our first team here at Boyd County. We have had some students competing in high school rodeo events as individuals for a couple of years now, but this is the first official school team.” The idea of forming a rodeo team first came about when a group of students in Helton’s class started talking about their experiences competing in individual rodeo events, and it was then suggested that the school should have its own team. “I guess it was a collaboration between the students and myself,” stated Helton.
Courtney Bartley, Boyd County’s Career Technical Education Director, commented, “The rodeo team meets a need for a group of kids who otherwise don’t have a path to explore, which fits their unique interest and development of their skills. Mrs. Helton is meeting kids where they are to get this off the ground, and eventually allow these students to compete at a level they may not be able to otherwise. Plus, it enables kids to network in the field of agriculture. There are several kids in the club who have more experience than others and who can lend themselves well to the start-up of a unique club such as this one where you have to know how competition and travel work. Mrs. Helton also teaches horticulture and has a passion for animal science in general. She is beginning a new class that will focus on the farm-to-table process with food animals. Kids are excited, and we are blessed to be able to offer these new opportunities.”
Rodeo season typically runs from August to May and offers a wide array of events to compete in. Hinton shared that these events include barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, pole bending, roping, ranch riding, and goat tying. All events are timed and/or scored by a judge. To compete, students must register for the rodeo and any events they wish to compete in and must pay for each event's fee on their own. Students will compete against other high school students from West Virginia. All members of the Boyd County High School Rodeo Team join the national and state high school rodeo associations. “The state association will host the sanctioned rodeos that students will compete in to win prizes, scholarships, and the points required to qualify for nationals,” explained Helton. “Currently, each student has been practicing at their own choice of venue or with a trainer that has been hired for private lessons. I am currently working to find a place where we can practice as a team. We are hoping to practice at the Boyd County Fairgrounds, but we need to find an indoor arena to practice with winter approaching,” added Helton.
The Boyd County High School Rodeo Team currently consists of volunteer coaches and parents who have some prior rodeo or event riding experience. Boyd County’s Ella Crum, Ethan Crum, Erik Germann, Angelyna Parks, Emmi Vanhoose, and Cutter Webb. Ella Crum shared with us her excitement about the formation of this team, “I first got started in the rodeo world around age five, and my love for the sport just kind of took off from there. There was just something special about being in that rodeo atmosphere that I fell in love with. I first started out with barrel racing at the local county fair and then eventually ventured out into other events over the years. I have been competing for the last five years. The thing I love most about this sport is the use of horsemanship that is involved. It involves training not only the horse but its rider as well. Together you develop and grow as you learn. I was really excited when I first heard about this coming to this area.”
Crum is not the only person that is happy to see this exciting new opportunity come to the area. Boyd County High School’s Athletic Director, Pete Fraley, shared, “There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding this team. We look forward to seeing what this team can do. This is a terrific opportunity for students to join something that they enjoy and that supports the school at the same time,” Helton agreed with Fraley and added that, “We are all really excited and looking forward to this experience. I would like to thank our sponsor, Smithfield in Grayson Ky for providing us the opportunity to make this team a reality.”