Meet the Member Ella Kay

by Rodeo News

By Lindsey Fancher

Ella Kay went into Junior High School Nationals a state champion and left Perry, Georgia as an all-around World Champion this June. The thirteen-year-old took reserve champion in goat tying, fourth in breakaway, and second in the second round of ribbon roping. The hard work culminated into the biggest surprise for the incoming eighth grader. “I couldn’t believe it when they called a girl from Louisiana, I knew it had to be me. I didn’t expect a roper to win all-around. It was a week full of blessings, all my hard work paid off and everything fell into place.” Ella Kay’s practice routine is rigorous. She ropes on both of her horses every afternoon, ties goats with coach, 2022 College Nationals Goat Tying Champion, Kamryn Duncan, and conditions in the gym with coach Ricardo Griffith twice a week. “I push sleds, tires, and run with resistance bands,” she said. “That’s helping with my agility and it’s helping me be more mentally tough.”
The crew that joined Ella on the ten-hour trek from her hometown of Iowa, LA, was dad, Brian, mom, Dea Anne, sister Addison (16), and McNeese junior, Kamryn. The whole family put in effort to support the world champion, “It took a big crew to get this done,” said Brian, who used to compete in tie down and now works as a supervisor at Westlake chemical, “All the grandparents at home are taking care of chores; her older sister, Addison, is helping in the barn, and her mom Dea Anne (who is an elementary school principal), is keeping track of forms, fees, clothes, and cooking.” During nationals when Ella was tempted to chuck water balloons with her teammates, it was Brian and Kamryn who gave her strength to keep her mental game on track, “When my friends were goofing around, my dad told me I’m here to do a job. He and Kamryn have instilled in me that God is here to help. Kamryn and I say this prayer before every run, God has a plan. When He’s ready, I’m ready.”
As winning the world caught Ella by surprise, her dream to be a rodeo athlete caught the family by surprise too. Before her older sister hung up her roping gloves for track spikes, Ella begged Addison and her parents to let her rope too. “My family didn’t expect me to be a cowgirl and at first they said I was too young,” recalls Ella, “When I finally convinced them to let me try, I jumped on a horse and started roping.” Going into the sixth grade, she approached her parents again with the desire to high school rodeo. “I told dad I was doing junior high. It was time to be a big girl.” Her first year in the LJHSRA proved Ella to be a big deal indeed with her finishing her first season as a state champion in the goat tying. The second time around at nationals, Ella was wiser as to how to handle the pressure, “I changed not paying attention so much to points and just trusting my body to do the work.” Ella also had a new horse, breakaway horse, TI, to work with. Ella got her goat-tying mount, Lipstick, before nationals last year and clicked with the seasoned mare right away, but she had to work a little harder to find her groove with TI, “My dad told me he was fast enough, but I didn’t trust him on the first two rodeos we did. We had trouble staying off the barrier. Once I started trusting him that got us to where we are now.”
Riding two horses and roping isn’t all that Ella puts her heart and soul into. A student-athlete at S.J. Welsh Middle School, Ella competes year-round in her extracurriculars of basketball, volleyball, and softball (travel softball on the weekends when she doesn’t have rodeos). “My parents are trying to talk me down into two school sports instead of three, but it’s not working,” she comments. Three sports or two, Ella’s passion for rodeo continues to be unyielding. She’s already working toward winning nationals in both the breakaway and goat tying next year. She also looks forward to competing in high school, where she hopes to be a four-year national qualifier all while trusting in God’s greater plan.

                © Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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