Family traditions:Third-generation CNFR competitor reflects on college rodeo experience
Casper – Some of the best cowboys and cowgirls from around the nation convened in Casper to showcase their talents and compete for top honors in the 2017 College Nationals Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
The rodeo kicked off on June 11, and the championship round will be held on June 17.
Wyoming native KL Spratt shares her experience competing in college rodeos and the CNFR as she reflects back on her college career.
Spratt grew up on her family’s cattle ranch near Lysite before moving to Phoenix, Ariz., then New Mexico and Texas for school.
Spratt explains that rodeoing is not simply an individual hobby but a family tradition.
“My whole family rodeos. My mom won the College Finals three times. My grandpa won the Finals once. My uncle is a world champion calf roper. It’s just the thing we do,” says Spratt
She competes in barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping and qualified for the CNFR in both barrel racing and goat tying.
After attending New Mexico Highlands University for two years, the school canceled their rodeo program, leaving Spratt looking for other options to continue her passion.
“I wanted to go to a four-year school that had warm weather, and there’s not that many out there,” says Spratt. “There was only one school with money left for scholarships, and that was Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.”
She explains that her coach sent out an e-mail notifying other schools that they were closing their rodeo program and included the team’s roster.
“My coach at Sam Houston, Mr. Miller, called and recruited me. It all happened within a week,” comments Spratt. “I flew down there, and I loved it. Now I’m rodeoing for Sam Houston State.”
According to Spratt, the rodeo team “is a pretty big deal” at Sam Houston State University, with approximately 60 individuals on the team roster.
“We have 11 kids competing here in Casper, and it’s one of the biggest teams,” she says.
Spratt continues, “We’re doing really well, so it’s exciting.”
In addition to focusing on her college courses and competing in rodeos, Spratt also serves as the student director for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Southern Region.
“This is my fifth year of eligibility because I’m serving as the director right now,” she says.
Her duties in this position keep her busy at both regular rodeos and the CNFR.
“At the regular rodeos, I bring all of the banners, the flags, the box pads and the barrel covers,” comments Spratt. “Then, I help with the draw, post the draw and stand at the arena in case anyone needs me.”
Throughout the week at CNFR, she explains that directors are required to participate in board meetings and are in charge of the grand entry every night.
“I’m directing the breakaway roping event this week, so I’m out there in case there’s an issue,” she continues. “As directors, we’re also in charge of the grand entry, so I carry a flag and round up four people from the region each night to participate in the beginning ceremonies.”
Passing the torch
As Spratt competes in her last CNFR, she notes it is particularly special because her younger sister Sierra is also competing in Casper on the same college team.
“She’s a freshman, and this is my fifth year. We never got to compete together before this year because of our age gap,” explains Spratt. “Then, we both made the College Finals, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Spratt notes she’s enjoyed sharing the experience with her sister and teaching her the ropes during her last year competing at the college level.
“It’s been fun because I’ve gotten to show her what college rodeo is likes so she’ll be ready to roll next year,” comments Spratt. “We’ve been sharing a goat horse and a breakaway horse, so it’s been an adventure.”
She continues, “There’s not a lot of people who are on the same team and are siblings who have made it to the same College Finals, so that’s pretty special.”
Spratt notes that having the opportunity to travel around the country is one of the most rewarding parts of competing in college rodeo.
“I like going to a lot of different places and to new rodeos,” she says. “When I moved to Texas, I had never seen the state or rodeoed here before, so it’s been fun.”
Spratt graduated this May with a bachelor’s degree in marketing but notes that she isn’t done competing in rodeos.
“I have a nice barrel horse right now, so I’d like to go to some rodeos and see how that goes here in the future,” she concludes. “My sister and I bought a house down in Huntsville, so I’m going to stay – at least while she’s going to school – and keep rodeoing here.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.