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Meet the Member Andrew Burks
story by Michele Toberer
After rodeoing for over half of his life, Andrew Burks was glad to add the 2019 IPRA Rookie Champion Calf Roper title to his list of accomplishments. Now 23 years old, the Kiln, Mississippi cowboy has team roped a little but mainly focused on tie-down roping in his rodeo career. “Competing at the Lazy E Arena at IFR 50 was pretty awesome. It was a different set up than usual with the calves, you had to run the calves a little further; and it was just a really great event in a great facility. I placed in one of the rounds, and although it wasn’t really my week, with a couple ruh-rohs on my runs, I am still grateful to have qualified and earned the rookie title in the International Professional Rodeo Association.”
As the youngest child of Devonna Straughan, who works at a bank, and stepdad, James Straughan, a welder, for the first 11 years of his life Andrew was more interested in baseball. However, after watching James, his older siblings, uncle, and cousins roping and rodeoing, he finally decided to trade out his bat for a rope and has not put it down since. Andrew competed in the Mississippi Junior High and High School Rodeo Association and was a national qualifier each year of competition. “I ended up in the top 10 calf ropers at the national high school finals in 2015, my junior year, and also finished in the top 10 at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma that year.”
After graduating from a small private school in 2016, Andrew moved up to the college rodeo ranks, and finished as the reserve champion tie down roper in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Ozark Region in 2017 while he attended Pearl River Community College. His success in the region led him to his first college national finals rodeo in 2017 where he finished as the 3rd place tie down roper in the country at the collegiate level. Andrew attended a few other colleges over the next couple years, and his third year of eligibility, he won the champion tie down roper title in the Ozark region while attending the University of West Alabama and placed in a round at the CNFR.
Throughout the last several years, a special sorrel mare named BB has helped Andrew with the success he has had at high school and college rodeos. Now 19-years-old, Andrew starting riding BB when she was 15 and he was a senior in high school. “She has done so good for me and is my all-time favorite horse. But I just recently purchased a new 7-year-old gelding named Bugs and am starting to go on him now. I think we’re going to do well together.”
Currently, Andrew is living in north Alabama and when he isn’t rodeoing, he works for Bobby Terry Company doing heating, air, and electrical work. When you are as involved in roping and rodeo as much as he is, there’s not much time for hobbies, but Andrew does like to play golf now and then.
“I like tie down roping because you have to be athletic and there is a lot that goes into a good run. It’s never the same run every time and you don’t always know what to expect. You don’t get bored with it because every run is different. My main goal this year is to make the IFR 51. I travel to rodeos quite a bit with my girlfriend, Chelsea Abernathy, and she breakaway ropes at the rodeos also. Hopefully, we’ll both be at the IFR this year.”
Andrew would like to thank his sponsor, Lyle’s Ropes, for their continued support of his rodeo endeavors.