Jimmie Smith - Rookie of the Year
Named Rookie of the Year
Photos by: Kent Soule
Smith Snatches Rookie of the Year Title with Late Season Success
On January 1, Jimmie Smith wrote “2018 WPRA Resistol Rookie of the Year” on her bathroom mirror. For the now 22-year-old, that was her end-game goal. And she knew it was a big one.
Safe to say that on September 30, she could wipe the mirror clean and set a new goal. Rookie year finished – and goal accomplished.
Smith, of McDade, Texas, snagged the 2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year award with a whopping $61,199 in total money. Though she feared midway through the year that she’d never be able to earn enough to even have a shot at the title, she and her horse Lena hit their stride in late summer and after winning Puyallup, she blew things open, picking up checks at several more rodeos to close out the season.
Leia Pluemer of Bosque Farms, New Mexico finished as the rookie runner up with $39,940.
“This is absolutely amazing,” Smith said on winning the Rookie title. “Especially knowing how tough the girls competing this year were. It was a tight race and there are some amazing horses. It still hasn’t really set in – I think when I get my buckle on December 11 maybe it will. I keep thinking, ‘Are you sure this is true?’”
Not only is it true, but in the process, Smith accomplished the other big goals she’d set for herself. She made the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo, and she finished 24th in the world standings, meaning she’ll get to enter all the big indoor rodeos early next year. It’s something she described as “so crazy” to think about.
“This was an absolute rollercoaster for sure. But literally a dream come true,” Smith said. “Everybody dreams of it, and I dreamed of having a horse like this since I was a little girl. So to get to run with those girls out there, and to finish as Rookie of the Year and follow in the footsteps of the girls that have won it years before is pretty amazing.”
Smith and her horse, Lena on the Rocks, seemed to find their stride in August, capped with a victory at the Washington State Fair Pro Rodeo in Puyallup where she took home more than $21,000 in total. Prior to that, Smith had to rest Lena for about six weeks for an abscess, but when she returned and as the summer months waned, it was clear the two were on a tear.
After winning in Abilene, Smith was 32nd in the Texas Circuit, but because she was only about $6,000 out, she decided to hit all the Texas rodeos she could in hopes of cashing some checks and bumping up in the standings.
It worked. She placed at Amarillo, won Texarkana, picked up checks in a couple more Texas rodeos and suddenly was in 7th place in the standings, enough to qualify her for her first circuit finals rodeo.
“I won about $10,000 in two weeks, which was amazing!” she said. “It was another goal I had written down, but after the winter rodeos I only had like $3,000 won and there aren’t big Texas rodeos in the summer, so I knew I was going to have to go home and do well at the end of the season.”
Through it all, Smith has managed to keep her head in the game at school, too. She graduated in May from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural communication and journalism, then turned around and enrolled in Texas A&M Commerce online to get her Master’s degree in agricultural science. She is also on the college rodeo team for Texas A&M, so in addition to schoolwork and pro rodeos, she’s managed to make it to college rodeos too, including the National College Finals Rodeo over the summer.
“It’s been rough, and I got behind in my classes,” she said. “I only had about a week at home to get ready for the college finals and I could tell I hadn’t been home roping and tying goats, but now I’ll have a little bit more break this winter to get ready for next semester and get back to doing those things more consistently.”
Smith will graduate in the spring with her Master’s degree, and from there what’s on tap? She’s not sure. One goal at a time, she said. One of her biggest goals would be to make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2019, and since she’ll have a good start with the big winter rodeos come January, it could certainly be an attainable goal – maybe the one she needs to write on her bathroom mirror come January 1, 2019.