The Weatherford High School Rodeo Team has more than doubled in size in the past year, according to sponsor Laura Morris. The team has grown to 17 members, up from the eight in the 2016-17 season, she said.
And folks can get a look at their hometown team soon when they host their own rodeo Feb. 9-11 at the Parker County Sheriff's Posse arena. Activities begin at 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $7 at the gate and $6 in advance. Also, if purchased in advance, tickets include a $1 discount for $5 or more spent at the concession stand.
Morris said the Weatherford rodeo is different from most in the North Texas High School Rodeo Association (NTHSRA) in several ways. For one, it is held at their own arena, unlike most that are held at the association's arena in Saginaw.
"The kids have to work to earn use of the Sheriff's Posse arena," she said. "This past year they worked a night at the Ranch Rodeo, and the other was a big roping event."
Weatherford is one of a very few teams that actually host a rodeo in their own arena. She noted others being Ponder, Alvarado and Decatur.
"It means a lot to do work to host this rodeo," she said. "And they have a good rapport with the Sheriff's Posse. Several of the members came up and thanked them for their work. Some of these kids may go on to be members of the Sheriff's Posse someday."
Another thing that she said separates the Weatherford Rodeo from others is the awarding of buckles to first-place finishers in each event.
"I don't know of another team that does that," she said. "We go look for sponsors so kids can get that buckle."
Morris said her program also has a great relationship with the Weatherford College program and coach Johnny Emmons.
"Several of our members have gone on to success at Weatherford College with Johnny," she said. "Ours (her daughter, Mallory Morris) is thinking about doing that. Our stipulation with her is that she attend Weatherford College her first two years of college."
Mallory Morris is also going to be the Weatherford Rodeo Queen.
The growth of the Weatherford College team is essential to the NTHSRA, which Morris said is struggling with participation. Recently, she, several members of her team, and some other members from the association (about 50 in all) made an appearance on WFAA Television to talk about the league and hopefully draw attention to would-be members.
"We don't just want our team to build, we want all of them to build," she said. "In high school, when I competed, you rodeoed with your school. Now, there are a lot of other options.
"This year I was able to get in contact with someone (at Weatherford High), and they mentioned us in announcements. I had 10 kids call and say, 'I didn't know there was a team.'"
Morris also stresses that experience is not a necessity to participate. Neither is having a horse.
"A lot of these kids live in town. They don't have a horse," she said. "But they're learning about chute dogging. They've got hats and boots. They're learning the cowboy life.
"A lot of the kids are now saying, 'I want a horse.'"
Chute dogging is roping calves on foot. Another event that doesn't require a horse is walk-up goat tying.
The rodeo is expected to include several of the NTHSRA leaders from the area, including:
*Maggie Pytlik, Weatherford, pole bending, barrel racing.
*Rylee Wells, Peaster, breakaway roping, walk-up goat tying.
*Kaelee Brown, Aledo, ride-up goat tying.
*Payton Byars, Aledo, chute dogging.
Also, Aledo's Eryn Foust and Peaster's Jaci Baker are in the running for Rookie Cowgirl, while Peaster's Shawn Glover is competing for Rookie Cowboy.
The Weatherford team includes one athlete from Santo and another from Mineral Wells. Through the WHS team's success, Morris hopes to help these schools enhance their own programs.
"We love having them on our team," she said. "But we are hoping to build those programs so they'll have one at their own school through events like our rodeo."
For more information about the team, or for advance tickets to the rodeo, contact ----Morris at 817-629-5083. Morris also invites interested persons to check out the team's Facebook page.
A Valentine's Dance will follow the rodeo in the clubhouse Saturday night. Admission is free with a rodeo ticket.