By AMANDA KIMBLE
HUCKABAY (December 4, 2016) – The Cowboy Capital is a moniker fitting Stephenville. Student athletes come to the city to join the Tarleton Rodeo Team, and many professional cowboys and cowgirls call the area home. They lay down roots, have children, strengthen the city’s rodeo heritage and help secure Stephenville’s spot in the world of rodeo.
But, the borders of the Cowboy Capital stretch beyond the city limits and into the rural communities, unincorporated cities and even the school districts that make up Erath County.
Huckabay is home to several families who have made – and continue to make – a major impact on the sport and industry. A number of students who are following in family members’ boot steps and blazing trails of their own are enrolled at Huckabay ISD.
Bobby Mote, four-time world champion bareback rider and founding member of the Elite Rodeo Association; eight-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Charly Crawford and his wife Jackie, who is also a champion roper; and NFR qualifiers with a long list of rodeo accomplishments, including Chad Klein, David Key and Lance Brooks are Huckabay ISD parents.
There’s also Kirk and Becky Bray – he is the CEO and president of United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC). His brother Ken is the CEO of Equibrand.
A grandchild of Clay O’Brien Cooper, seven-time world champion heeler, as well as numerous other families with rodeo and roping ties are also affiliated with the school district.
Even a few on the school district payroll were brought up inside the arena. Jill Crowder Edwards moved to the area from Colorado to compete on the Tarleton team. She is now the counselor at Huckabay ISD and her daughter, a student also competes. James Hammond, math teacher, also rodeoed at the university (yes, rodeo is a verb).
Edwards, Hammond, Shelley Bennight Barrett’s, whose son Jett started the month in Las Vegas competing at the Roy Cooper Invitational Junior Roping and others are working together to bring the student competitors together by forming the Huckabay Rodeo Club.
The effort has received the full support of new Huckabay ISD administrators, Superintendent Troy Roberts and Principal Nick Heupel.
Intent on recognizing students who participate in rodeo activities and the families who support their efforts, Edwards sent out a message to see if there was an interest in forming an organization. In just one week, 26 students representing grades kindergarten through twelfth became members of the rodeo club, and others are expected to join the fold.
They students aren’t just kids who have interest in riding, roping and other rodeo activities. They’re competitors and card carrying members of a number of organizations and they’ve competed in big arenas, according to Edwards.
Their affiliations include membership in Texas Junior High Rodeo Association, Texas High School Rodeo Association, American Junior Rodeo Association; Central Texas Youth Rodeo Association, Kids Junior Rodeo Association, American Bucking Bull Inc., USTRC and many other organizations.
“We want to honor and recognize those students and the rodeo culture here in Huckabay,” Edwards said. “They put in a lot of work. They’re good kids who are making good grades while playing basketball and getting up early and staying up late to work with their horses.”
Edwards said without the club, the efforts and accomplishments of rodeo competitors sometimes goes unnoticed since the sports are not school-based, competitions typically take place away from home and over the weekend and the students have a long list of memberships which can be hard to track.
The formation of the club is in the early stages, and Edwards said the next step is to establish a calendar that recognizes the various competitions and events where students will participate.
“It’s a fact that kids who are more involved are more successful,” Edwards said. “And for their efforts at school and while their away deserve to be recognized.”
For more information on the Huckabay Rodeo Club, call Jill Edwards at 254-968-5274.