Meet the Member Phillip Kelce

by Rodeo News

story by Lily Weinacht

Phillip Kelce of Calera, Ala., has competed in the SPRA since the association’s founding, but the 35-year-old’s love for rodeo and roping took root in his early teens. “My mom showed horses, so I started out showing reining horses and then switched to working cow horse, which rolled into team roping and tie-down roping,” Phillip remembers. “I didn’t start roping until I was about 14, and then just at jackpots, but I high school rodeoed during the second semester of my senior year and ended up reserve in the state for team roping after about eight rodeos.”
Following high school, Phillip started college at Auburn University, but when his mom became ill, he had to return home, choosing instead to amateur rodeo and rope in the USTRC, NTRL, and WSTR. “I just love rodeo,” Phillip states, now competing solely in team roping. “I love going down the road, and practicing and working on my roping and the little things that help give me a competitive edge. And since both my parents have passed away and I’m an only child, my friends and the guys I rodeo with are my family.”
These friends include two of Phillip’s team roping partners, Terry Danner and Daniel Robertson. “Terry is my neighbor – he showed me how to make better runs, and when no one else could go with me, he would rope with me, and he’s helped me make the finals. Daniel is my roping partner, and last year when I swapped to heeling in the middle of the season and I was afoot, Daniel let me ride on of his horses, and we qualified for the SPRA and PCA finals together. He’s a good header and he’s got a great attitude, plus he’s fun to go down the road with.”
In addition to his rodeo family, Phillip’s roping horse, a sorrel mare named Fancy, is another crucial member of the team. “I bought her in March from Terry, and she’s got a lot of run in her. Plus she’s the easiest horse I’ve ever hauled,” says Phillip. Both a horse trainer and a cowboy, he owns 20 acres, a barn, arena, and roping steers aplenty outside of Calera. “I started training horses in college to help pay the bills, and when I got out of school, I was really starting to like it, so I decided to make a living at it. I mostly train roping horses, but I do barrel horses and whatever the public needs.”
On the weekends he’s not rodeoing, Phillip enjoys fishing or boating on the river, but being so centrally located near many of the SPRA’s rodeos keeps his calendar full. Phillip also competes in the PRCA’s Southeastern Circuit, as well as the PCA, in which he won rookie of the year in 2002. His favorite SPRA rodeos, however, are in Ardmore, Tenn., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. “Ardmore pays out good, and Tuscaloosa is right by my house. They have a good set up and they get a lot of teams, and it’s fun no matter what.”
Phillip’s sponsors, Classic Ropes, Rope Smart, and Mid State Farmers Co-op, are helping him reach his rodeo goals, which include adding a heeling saddle to the heading saddle he won in 2012 as the SPRA champion header. “I’d also like to make a run at the NFR in the next few years if I can get my horses built back up and my partners want to go,” says Phillip. “But I mainly just want to rodeo and stay healthy. I enjoy it so much that it doesn’t matter where I go!”

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

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