By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (October 5, 2016) – When Alyson Philips first walked into the arena alongside a dairy heifer, she had a single goal. She might have been young – just nine years old. The Erath County Jr. Livestock Association arena might have been a bit smaller than the global stage, but Alyson knew she would one day win the world.
She was right. Alyson, a Lingleville High School senior, scored a first place title at the International Junior Holstein Show, which is being held during the ongoing World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
Alyson and her heifer, “Duhibou Fever Piranha,” walked out of the arena with the top prize in winter yearling class and received another notable nod – honorable mention junior champion.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Alyson said, speaking from the showgrounds Wednesday. “This is the biggest show, and there’s not much more you can ask for. I have achieved the goal I set when I first started.”
Her show days began with appearances at the Erath County Junior Livestock Show. Alyson then worked her way up to major state shows at events like the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo in Waco.
Alyson and her father, Kevin, then started logging many miles, traveling to national shows. Kevin said this year’s trip to Wisconsin added up to about a half-a-dozen world appearances.
He also said the international show was preceded by 2016 successes at the Southern Spring National Holstein Show in Stillwater, Okla., and the Mid-East Summer National Holstein Show in Columbus, Ohio, where “Duhibou Fever Piranha” was named junior champion and reserve junior champion, respectively.
Alyson said the Alliant Energy Center in Madison and its massive coliseum are nothing like smaller venues.
“There’s a huge difference,” she said. “There are people filling the coliseum and you have people from all around the world watching on the internet. It’s very intimidating.”
While years of experience helped elevate Alyson to world standards, she said the entire experience has been built on something much more valuable.
“This is something that’s really important to me,” she said. “This our thing – me, my sister and my dad. This is what we do and it’s pretty awesome.”
Little sister Kenlee, 10, is in her second year of showing. While she’s just starting her journey toward the world arena, her name is beside Alyson’s on international show entries.
“I have both of their names on the animal because Kenlee is a part of it every day, too,” Kevin said.
For Kevin, the experience is also about honoring his upbringing.
“I was raised in the dairy business,” he said. “My dad, Kenny Philips, sold out in 1997, but it also goes all the way back to my grandad, Prentice Philips. He started it all.”
It’s building up to bigger things for Alyson. Kevin said Oklahoma State University, where the Southern Spring Show is held, has already taken notice of her drive and passion.
“OSU is trying to get her to be a part of the dairy program,” Kevin said. “They see her involvement and how she loves it, and they want her to be a part of the program and the dairy judging team.”
First, Alyson and her heifer have two more appearances at the World Dairy Expo. Alyson will compete for a showmanship title on Thursday, and Duhibou Fever Piranha will be ushered into the arena by a senior showman Friday for the International Holstein Show.
When it all winds down, the father-daughter duo will travel back to Erath County and work together to compile an All-American entry including this year’s accomplishments complete with photos. On the heels of big national and world titles, Kevin said there’s a good chance Alyson could win the All-American honors.
“It would be pretty awesome to win All-American,” Alyson said. “It would open a lot of doors as far as college and jobs are concerned.”
As far is her future is concerned, Alyson is has made no decision. She going to make the most of her final months at Lingleville High School and take time to weigh all of her options.
“It’s a pretty big decision,” she said.
But, just like she did at just nine years old, Alyson knows what she wants.
“I hope to continue and one day, when I have a family, I want my kids to show, too,” she said. “But, first, I hope to go through college and an ag program and work in the field. Then, I want my kids to have the same experience I’ve had.”
And that’s something any father can be proud of.
“This is a very strong passion of mine,” Kevin said. “For my girls to have the same passion and for us to be sharing it together, is really big for me.”
Sure, the experience take a lot of work – waking up early and staying up late to care for her heifer. It means exercising the animal and keeping it clean. And, when it’s show time, all those activities combine into a flurry of constant activity that Alyson knows will eventually lead to an even brighter future.
“I wouldn’t trade the accomplishments, learning and leadership skills for anything,” Alyson said. “The hard work has shown me not everything in life is given to you. If you really want something, you have to work for it.”