A love of horses drew Brie Morneau, a senior at Timber Creek High School, to the sport of rodeo and barrel racing.“I like that it’s fast,” Brie said. “You build trust with your horse, and you have this personal connection with your horse.”Brie was among the students from the Keller ISD Rodeo Team who met last week to get ready for a rodeo they hosted Sept. 27-29 in Saginaw. The Keller High Rodeo Team will host rodeo competitions at 8 p.m. Oct. 11, 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and 2 p.m. Oct.13 at the at the North Texas High School Rodeo Arena, 6229 Windy Ryon Way, Saginaw. Admission is $5.Dozens of Keller district students happily spend their evenings in dusty arenas working their horses, practicing steer wrestling, learning to tie goats and more. The Keller ISD Rodeo Team is made up mostly of kids from Timber Creek and Central, with a few more from Fossil Ridge and New Directions. Keller High School has had a rodeo team for more than 30 years. Between the two groups, they have more than 50 participants. Almost every weekend throughout the school year, kids are competing.A lot of Brie’s classmates are surprised to learn the school has a rodeo team. “They definitely don’t expect it,” she said.Keller High sophomore Alyssa Stephenson, president of the KHS Rodeo Team, said that the team provides a different extra-curricular activity for those who like working with horses and livestock.Alyssa practices with her horse every other day and both Keller teams practice together on Thursday nights in the arena at the Keller Sports Park.“All these teams are one big happy family,” Alyssa said. “We all get along.”Brie, the president of the KISD rodeo team, said that participating in rodeo has built up her confidence. “It helps you come out of your shell,” she said. “I’m normally a shy person.” Brie was elected queen of the KISD rodeo.Parents of rodeo team members say the biggest benefit of participation is learning responsibility.Sherri Eubanks, Alyssa’s mom and the sponsor for the KHS team, said that team members have to work hard to take care of their horses and train them. Kids can’t “just hop on and hope for the best.”“These kids spend endless hours feeding, caring for, and working with their teammate, which just happens to be a 1200 pound horse,” Eubanks said. “You can't just say, ‘hey, you’re doing it wrong.’ You have to form a bond with your horse and work together.”For Central junior Justin Maze-McLain, the best part of rodeo is the rush he gets from bareback bronco riding. “Adrenaline and the crowd, hearing the crowd roar,” Dustin said.Dustin grew up around rodeo and livestock. His family has a ranch in the Bowie area.Preserving Western heritage and interest in animal science and agriculture are some of the reasons John Yeatts, Timber Creek parent, sponsors the KISD Rodeo Team. “We wanted to create a physically and socially safe place for kids to pursue a passion for rodeo and animal science,” Yeatts said.Students and horses wear safety gear and rodeo competitions include professional rodeo clowns to help wrangle bulls, pick-up men for bronco and bull riding and emergency crews. The teams focus on safety for kids and for animals, Yeatts said. Students also learn about training themselves and their horses to be athletes.“Our core value would be we’re teaching kids to lead responsible, respectful lives in and out of the arena,” he said.Both Bri and Alyssa said they hope to get college scholarships to continue competing in rodeo. Yeatts said that 10 to 15 students received scholarships last year for rodeo.
Keller High School Rodeo
8 p.m. Oct. 11, 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at the North Texas High School Rodeo Arena, 6229 Windy Ryon Way, Saginaw. Admission is $5.