President’s Update 2023
President’s Update 2023
December 1, 2023
It is rarely disputed that the road to the NFR is one of the toughest yet most rewarding endeavors in professional rodeo. Each year I have watched, since I was going up and down the road, how the ladies and their equine partners get tougher and tougher each year.
This year has been a record-breaking year in both our events in professional rodeo. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and her arsenal of horses has been a force to watch this year. Not only did she become just the third lady in our 75-year history to cross the $3 million mark in career earnings, but she also set a new regular season earnings record en route to her 17th NFR. She enters the NFR with a cushion just shy of $110,000 with a shot at not only a third gold buckle but also another record with most money ever won in the barrel racing in a single year. Fans will not want to miss a minute of the barrel racing action!
Shelby Boisjoli is also etching her name in the WPRA history books having won more money in 2023 than any breakaway roper ever. She enters her fourth consecutive National Finals Breakaway Roping this December in the No. 1 spot looking to add a coveted gold buckle to her trophy case. This year’s breakaway roping finals are shaping up to be the most competitive yet and I am hoping everyone will either join us in person at the South Point to see it play out or watch live on the Wrangler Network for all 10 rounds – Dec. 5 and 6.
In addition, I would like to let our membership know that NFR qualifier Colette Baier is working with the organizers of the World of Rodeo Reunion and Gold Card Gathering to put together a mini reunion of barrel racers who qualified for the NFR in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The event will be held December 15 in Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Those interested in receiving more information on this reunion are asked to contact Colette at 580-401-0509. Would love to see you there if you are able to join us.
Fans will have the opportunity during the first nine rounds of the National Finals Rodeo to vote on the best dressed barrel racer as part of the Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Award competition. Prior to the 10th round, we will announce who the winner of the 2023 award will be. Voting will be open daily at www.wpra.com so be sure to vote for the lady that you think brought the best rodeo glitter to the Thomas and Mack. This award is made possible by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Congratulations goes out to all our members for continuing to keep this association – created solely by women for women – alive and well for 75 years. I thank you for making 2023 another historic year! Keep up the great work.
October 1, 2023
With the regular season behind us we turn our attention to what could be considered the reward season. Between now and December we will be crowning circuit champions, world champions and recognizing both rodeo personnel and committees who have gone above and beyond in 2023.
Congratulations to the Top 15 barrel racers and breakaway ropers who have secured their first or 17th qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or the Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping. I am excited to see all these ladies on the big stage in Las Vegas and if the action during the regular season was any indication the Finals is going to be exciting.
What a great milestone during our 75th year in business that earnings records were set in both the barrel racing and breakaway roping. Congrats to Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi who set the bar high in regular season earnings this year with $270,563 based on our unofficial standings prior to the audit. The previous record was Tiany Schuster set in 2017 with $250,378. Also, congrats to Shelby Boisjoli who will go into the 2023 Wrangler NFBR as the No. 1 roper with $164,549 the most ever won in breakaway roping in the WPRA.
Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping at the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center, Dec. 5-6. General admission tickets are $30 each day, with reserve admission tickets available for $45 per day. Tickets can be purchased online at southpointarena.com, ticketmaster.com, or by using this direct event link: https://am.ticketmaster.com/southpoint/buy?filterType=169, by phone at 866-796-7111 or at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa box office. Tickets are electronic unless purchased at the box office or specified otherwise online or over the phone. The event will begin daily at 2 p.m. (PST) with doors opening at 1 p.m. daily. Parking at the South Point Hotel and Casino is FREE.
Have you heard the news? The WPRA is hosting a Western Region barrel racing and breakaway roping event, Oct. 19-22 at the Blackhawk Arena in Salina, UT and it counts for 2024 standings!
Entries are now open (https://saddlebook.com/events/5624) and will close on Oct. 12. A spin-off of the WPRA World Finals, this event will have the following races:
- $8,000 WPRA Card Race – all money will count toward 2024 world and Wilderness Circuit standings
- $2,000 Permit Race – fill your permit and be ready to kickoff the 2024 year as a Rookie
- $6,000 WPRA Breakaway – all money will count toward 2024 world and Wilderness Circuit standings
In addition, entries are now open for our WPRA World Finals, scheduled for Nov. 9-12 at Extraco Center in Waco, Texas. World Champions will be crowned in team roping (heading and heeling), tie-down roping, all-around, junior and futurity/derby. New features in 2023 will be a permit only breakaway roping and a $2,500 all around bonus. The WPRA Breakaway roping will serve as a 2024 qualifier for Fort Worth and RodeoHouston and earnings will count towards 2024 World and Texas circuit standings. The barrel racing will feature the Boot Barn Card Only event that will serve as a 2024 RodeoHouston qualifier and will count towards 2024 World and Texas circuit standings. The permit race is returning as well allowing members to fill their permits while running only against other permit holders.
Thanks to everyone for making the 2023 rodeo season a success.
September 1, 2023
As we head into the final month of the regular season it will be like none other with the addition of the Governor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, S.D., the final weekend in September. No doubt it will play a role in the final Top 15 in both barrel racing and breakaway roping. We will also be watching closely to see if Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi sets a new regular season earnings record in barrel racing. The current record was set by Tiany Schuster in 2017 with $250,378.
And the race for No. 1 in the regular season in breakaway roping has been a fun race to watch as of late. Whoever ends up ranked No. 1 going into the Wrangler National Finals Breakaway will also hold the record for most money won in the regular season as this event continues to grow. Speaking of the Wrangler NFBR it will once again be held at the South Point Hotel and Casino on Dec. 5-6 at 2 p.m. PT. Ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
I recently traveled to the First Frontier Circuit to conduct a General Membership meeting in advance of the Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Luzerne, NY. We had a great turnout with some really good questions. I hope we were able to clarify a few things for the members in this area and appreciate everyone taking the time to attend, get your questions answered and provide valuable input. As a reminder to all members please reach out to your circuit director or our vice president Heidi Schmidt or myself with any questions you have regarding the Association and activities going on. I would also like to thank Shawn Graham and his family for all their hospitality while we were there. They have a very nice facility there and put on a great rodeo.
As the season comes to an end, not only is it a time to celebrate those that make the NFR but also a time for the WPRA to recognize individuals and committees who have excelled this year. Every year since the early 1990s, the WPRA and Justin Boots have honored rodeo committees in each of the 12 circuits who have ensured safe ground for the animal athletes with the Justin Best Footing Award. This past year, we have seen even more rodeos step-up and either provide a hand rake or a tractor drag halfway through during their performances, and we are very grateful to each and everyone one of them. Several arena records have been set this year as a result. WPRA members will be given the chance in the coming weeks to vote for these awards in their specific circuit and I encourage everyone to take time and vote to thank these committees for making the conditions better. In the meantime, start thinking of which committees you feel deserve this honor including those that are the most improved.
Until next time, safe travels and good luck to all in this last month of the regular season.
August 1, 2023
This month’s column comes with much gratitude for a number of people in the industry. July was definitely an interesting month that had a lot of things going on all at once.
First, I would like to thank our entire membership for their patience during the very untimely shutdown of ProCom. What a trying time it was for everyone in the industry but appreciate your professionalism with making the best of a rough situation. We are all cautiously optimistic the worst is behind us on that unfortunate situation.
Second, I would like to thank everyone for the team effort that was on display this year at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in regards to the ground situation. We could see that things were heading in the wrong direction and were appreciative of Tom Hirsig and Randy Spraggins for allowing us to bring the team together to get things right. We were fortunate due to the format to have this opportunity but believe the results of the short round in Cheyenne spoke volumes for the importance of good safe ground. Not only is it better for the athletes but if everyone can perform to the best of their ability the fans get treated to a first-class show.
I had the opportunity to visit Salt Lake City for the progressive round, Cheyenne and Salinas for some general membership meetings. I appreciate those that took the time to attend one of these meetings and share your thoughts and questions and for allowing us to address your concerns as well as provide additional input for additional board discussions.
I also had the pleasure to attend the 2023 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Inductions in Colorado Springs. What a great class of inductees and it was a true honor for me to be there to celebrate their accomplishments. The WPRA inducted Sherry (Combs) Johnson and Fay Ann Horton Leach in the class of 2023. It was great to have both of these ladies there to celebrate this milestone. Unfortunately, it was the last big event on earth for Sherry Johnson as she passed away from her battle with COPD on August 2. What a legacy she left on the WPRA and may she now rest in peace.
Two days after Sherry passed away, we got word that longtime friend of the WPRA John Farris had passed away at the age of 95. John and his beloved wife, Mildred, who passed away in 2013 served the rodeo community for 51 years. In 2016 they became the first husband and wife to enter the ProRodeo Hall of Fame together in the notable category. John worked every National Finals Rodeo from 1967-2011 in some capacity or the other with the most notable being the timed event chute boss who always oversaw the staking of the barrel pattern.
While record temperatures have been being set from coast to coast this year, the level of competition you ladies have brought week in and week out to rodeos across the country has been just as hot. I am excited to see how these next two months play out and I know the fans are excited to watch it as well.
Keep up the great work and be safe in your travels.
June 1, 2023
The race for the world title begins in earnest this month with the kickoff of the summer run of rodeos. And what a summer it is shaping up to be with big paying rodeos like Reno, Cody, Calgary, the NFR Open and Salinas all on the horizon.
We are excited to have the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City back on the schedule for 2023 featuring barrel racing and breakaway roping with equal added money. Their added money along with Spanish Fork and Ogden is going to make the third week of July very profitable in the State of Utah. With an estimated $2 million payout and all rodeos being part of the NFR Playoff Series it will be exciting to watch the competition unfold.
It is also exciting to have WPRA breakaway roping at the Calgary Stampede for the first time in 2023. The breakaway will be held in conjunction with the team roping with the breakaway being contested on July 12. This year’s event will be held at the indoor facility Nutrien Western Event Center as part of the Calgary Stampede Rocky Mountain Cup.
Our rookies have been making headlines as of late with the Resistol Rookie Roundup featuring both the barrel racers and breakaway ropers for the second year at Cowtown Coliseum in Ft. Worth and then Miley Bunting capturing the Redding Rodeo title as a rookie. What a month it has been for our first-year members.
This month we honor all our fathers and what a special story we have on Hali Williams and her ProRodeo Hall of Fame dad Speed Williams. The sacrifices fathers make is often overlooked and underappreciated but well worth it when their children turn out to be great human beings like Hali. After winning RodeoHouston, Hali has a very strong hold on the No. 1 spot and will be exciting to see what the rest of the year has in store for her and her family.
I would like to wish everyone good luck as the summer run begins and be safe on the road.
May 1, 2023
This month, we get to celebrate all our mothers in a special way on Mother’s Day whether they are still with us here on earth or watching from above. We have many mothers and daughters that have been and are currently members of the WPRA. In this issue, we highlight the Youree family who have impacted multiple generations of the WPRA. Starting with the matriarch Florence Youree who did so much to advance the Association with one of her biggest impacts being getting the barrel race as a staple event in the National Finals Rodeo when it was in Oklahoma City. Her daughter, Renee Ward, followed in her mother’s footsteps and qualified for the NFR in 1985, the first year the NFR was held in Las Vegas. Renee’s two daughters Janae Ward Massey and Kylie Ward Weast have since competed under the bright lights of Las Vegas with Janae winning the world title in 2003. In celebration of our 75th Anniversary and Mother’s Day we think you will enjoy the special story on a very special WPRA family.
Speaking of our 75th Anniversary if you are in the Colorado Springs area, I encourage you to stop by the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and check out the WPRA’s special exhibit in the 101 Gallery. This exhibit officially opened on May 1 and will remain a featured exhibit through the middle of September. Take a walk down memory lane with the history and images of the Top 15 barrel racers from the 1960s through 2022. As mentioned last month we will be inducting two more deserving individuals into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame this summer – Fay Ann Horton Leach and Sherry Combs Johnson. Mark your calendars for July 15 and join us in Colorado Springs to honor these two ladies as well as the inductees of the PRCA.
In April, we also launched a WPRA Official Merchandise store. Visit our website – www.wpra.com and click on Official Store to see what all we have to offer. We will be adding additional 75th exclusive items in the months to come. I thank those who worked on getting this store up and running.
We just wrapped up the second Cowboy Channel’s Resistol Rookie Roundup at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth. The action was top notch, and I am inspired by all the young up-and-coming talent we have in the WPRA. Congrats to Kalli McCall on winning the barrel racing title, while two-event cowgirl Quincy Sullivan captured the breakaway roping title. Thanks to the Cowboy Channel and Resistol for featuring the future of rodeo on a grand stage like the Rookie Roundup.
Enjoy this last month before the busy and hectic summer run is upon us and cherish the time with family and friends. Travel safe and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!
April 1, 2023
As the weather slowly begins to warm up so does the action inside the WPRA. What exciting finishes we had at some of the largest winter rodeos including San Antonio, Houston and Austin. With different winners at all three of these major rodeos it really shows the depth of talent we have within our Association.
We held our Spring board meeting in March in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had very productive meetings. We welcomed new directors to the board including Nicole Bice (Badlands), Sheena Robbins (California), Jenna Duhon (Turquoise) and Christi Braudrick as one of our new roping directors. Christi joins Lynn Smith, who was re-elected as roping director, to begin a new chapter of two roping directors on our board. Melora Potter (Great Lakes) and Cindy Gillespie (Prairie) were also re-elected during this election cycle. These ladies along with the rest of the board are here to assist you so please reach out if any of us can be of assistance to you.
I would like to thank Kaylee Gallino (Badlands), Katie Pascoe (California) and Lacy Wilson (Turquoise) for their service to the board during their election cycle. We appreciate their time and dedication to the Association and their respective members.
The last week of March we also announced our sixth class of WPRA ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees, and I am honored to congratulate Sherry (Combs) Johnson and Fay Ann Horton Leach. Sherry will be inducted in the barrel racing category with her 1962 barrel racing world title that she won aboard her great horse Star Plaudit “Red,” which was part of WPRA’s first class in 2017. Fay Ann will go in as a WPRA notable recognizing her devotion to the Association during this 75th Anniversary year as well as her nine consecutive qualifications to the NFR. I would also like to congratulate all the other inductees on behalf of the WPRA that make up the Class of 2023. This year’s inductions will take place on Saturday, July 15 at 10 a.m. in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For more information check out www.wpra.com.
I would like to take this time to wish each of you a very Happy and Blessed Easter. Be sure to take time to give thanks for all your blessings that God has bestowed upon you. For we are nothing without him.
March 1, 2023
What a start to the 2023 rodeo season. I have been very impressed with the level of competition our members have brought to the rodeos this year as it has been great watching for the fans in both events. Keep up the great work. Also continued thanks to the rodeos who are raking or dragging during the barrel race. More are coming on board and providing this, and our members and their equine partners are thankful for their concern for the health and well-being of their horses. I would like to especially thank San Antonio Rodeo for adding a drag halfway through, we are seeing fast times and ladies placing at the very bottom!
You all should have received communication regarding the WPRA Walk-Up Replacement Policy that will be in place at select rodeos. Please familiarize yourself with the revised policy and the committees that will have this option at their rodeo. Be sure to reach out to the office, your circuit director, myself, or our vice president Heidi Schmidt if you have any questions or concerns regarding Walk-UP Replacement.
As you should also know by now, we will be wrapping up the 2023 WPRA Board Election the second week of March. I would first like to thank all that stepped forward to run for these positions and for all that have taken the time to vote and have your voice heard in this Association. We will be adding a second roping director to provide more representation for our ropers as the breakaway roping continues to have tremendous growth.
This year is also a special milestone for the WPRA as we celebrated 75 years on February 28. On February 28, 1948, a group of diverse women that wanted to compete in rodeo met in San Angelo to create this Association and every year since a new group of ladies has stepped forward to keep advancing the sport for women by women. I have had the privilege to serve the WPRA first as the all-women’s director and then as president three different times during the course of my career. It’s been a true honor to devote these years to an Association that has accomplished so much along-side such dedicated directors.
The March WPRA News looks back on the various milestones the WPRA and its members have achieved over the last 75 years. I for one am thankful to our founding members that created this Association despite the challenges they faced at the time. They were indeed trailblazers in the sport of rodeo, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to each of them.
It is now in our hands to propel the WPRA forward for another 75 years and keep women’s involvement in the iconic sport of professional rodeo alive and well. So, I send a heartfelt Happy Anniversary to the WPRA and all that make up this great Association.
January 1, 2023
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and is looking forward to a prosperous New Year!
What an exciting finish to the 2022 rodeo season. Congratulations to Hailey Kinsel, our 2022 WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer and Martha Angelone, our 2022 WPRA World Champion Breakaway Roper. I would also like to congratulate Shelley Morgan and Cadee Williams on winning their first average titles in the barrel racing and breakaway roping at the NFR, respectively.
So many great milestones, records and memories were made in Las Vegas, including but not limited to:
– Both rookies (Bayleigh Choate and Josie Conner) qualifying for the NFR in their respective events and setting new rookie earnings records in both barrel racing and breakaway roping
– Hailey Kinsel surpassing $1 million in NFR earnings alone and winning her fourth world title in six years
– WPRA Breakaway Roper Martha Angelone becoming the first rodeo athlete to win a world title at the NFR from the State of Virginia and also being recognized with the other athletes during the 10th round world champions ceremony
What a great group of women we had representing the Association this year and I thank each of you for that. Looking for even bigger and better things in 2023.
Speaking of better in 2023, I would like to say THANK YOU to Leon Vick, Caroline Lukens and the entire National Western Stock Show and Rodeo team for agreeing to and putting on a barrel racing qualifier this year for their rodeo. We also very much appreciate them offering ride times and dragging every 30 minutes during those ride times. Your hard work and efforts did not go unnoticed, and we are excited to see how the rodeo plays out in January.
As noted last month, 2023 will mark another election year. The directors taking office in 2023 and every three years thereafter will be: Badlands, Great Lakes, Prairie, California, Turquoise and Roping Director. We will be adding a roping director to the board of directors based on feedback we received from the membership. Therefore, be sure to read all information that will be coming out regarding the election and those eligible to run for said offices. Nomination ballots will be going out no later than January 12. These are for anyone you would like to nominate. The two individuals with the top number of votes will move onto the election ballot for the circuit positions. A total of four individuals will make the election ballot for the two roping positions. Following the second round of voting the top vote getter for the circuit positions will assume the board position with the top two taking the positions for roping in March.
I can’t stress enough that it is very important for you to read the ballot instructions very closely so that your voice in your Association can be heard. Take the time to read carefully and educate yourself on those running that will be serving three-year positions on your Board of Directors. Any questions, feel free to reach out to me, our Vice President Heidi Schmidt or the office.
In 2023 only, members will have a choice to submit their nomination and election ballots either digitally or in hard copy form, so be sure to pay attention to that.
Let’s start this New Year on a positive note and safe travels during these winter months.
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