9 Time PRCA Announcer of the Year [ The best part of life is still to come: “I haven’t gotten there yet.” ] The rich, […]
Mike & Sherrylynn Johnson
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
“I don’t know any other way of life,” said Mike Johnson, who went straight from high school to the rodeo road in 1982. “I’ve never held a job, I just rodeo. I’ve been an event representative in the PRCA for tie down for four years, but that’s as close to a job as I’ve had.” Born and raised in Henryetta, Okla., Mike averages around 40 days a year at home. He started roping when he was 6, and went to his first rodeo at 10. He had his PRCA card at 18. He roped the dog and everything else when he was a kid. “Rodeo is what I’ve wanted to do – all of a sudden 31 years have gone by and I have no regrets. You meet a lot of people and go a lot of places.”
His traveling partner, best friend, and wife, Sherrylynn agrees. “I think if there was a male me, it would be Mike. When you’re in a box as much as we are – truck or horse trailer – you’ve got to be best friends – you’re together constantly.” They share the same common goal that they had and accomplished five years ago – to make the Wrangler National Finals. Along the way, they are giving back. They didn’t even know their truck had Sirrus radio for a year and a half. “We’d read the Business Journal and talk about it,” she said. “When we’re on the road we take in things we enjoy. We’re doing what most people do when they retire. If we’re in San Diego and the pro game is going on, and we’ll get on the internet and buy tickets and go.” They have a four horse Hart aluminum with a slide out. “It works great. We pull it with a 3500 Dodge dually. We pull two horses and another young horse with us. We use the front hole for storage for hay. We have a pod on top with prizes for our clinics.
The couple married in 2002, 18 years after they first met during a high school rodeo. “We got married in Calgary, Alberta. We went to the rodeo the week before got married in an 1800-style church, complete with costumes.” The church they got married in was the first church in Canada. “I ran ribbons for Mike in high school and we won the Ribbon roping at the High School finals in 1982 – Oklahoma High School. We laugh because we can end that way – when we get into the Old Timers.” Sherrylynn went to college at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. “When I left high school I wanted to go to college. I went to school for 3 ½ years and agriculture and business. The college allowed me to stay on and coach the team and work on my masters. I completed on my masters and went on for my doctoral in developmental education. Sherrylynn finished her masters in counseling while coaching the rodeo team at Southern Arkansas University. She completed 30 plus hours towards her doctorate in developmental education while teaching at the college. She went on to teach for five years, moving from that to working for Purina. “I had a really nice horse, I felt like I was in a rut and decided to test myself and try to make the Finals with Purina’s support. The first year we took my vacation days and doubled them and I went out on the road for a month and a half. I worked both for the first year and I made the Finals. I did that for two years and then hit the road.” She met up with Mike on the road.
The couple has built their life around rodeo and passing their knowledge on to others. Mike started doing clinics 30 years ago. “They were more mom and pop type clinics when we started helping,” said Sherrylynn. “Mom and dad(name) have also sold horses with Martha Josey at the Josey Ranch for over 20 years. We ventured out and got a schedule of days we weren’t rodeoing and started helping kids in small groups. It’s went bonkers. We’ve been doing these now for five years. We take off March, April, and May for clinics.” They have one open week from now until the end of May. Thanks to the great support of sponsors like Spalding Labs, Nutramax Labs, PRO, Wrangler & Cowgirl Tuff, they can get to even more clinics than before. “Spalding Lab flew us in for the National Little Britches Finals so we could help those kids,” said Sherrylynn. “We have really good sponsors and part of what we ask is for them to be a part of the clinics so it’s not so expensive for the parents.
“We don’t have kids, I don’t have patience for young horses, but I do with the kids. A lot of our clinics have adults that want to go faster and win but we have a special place in our hearts for the kids. They call me the energizer bunny because I’ll just stay until they get it.” Their students have become the children they never had. “There’s a lot of kids we see once a year. We did a clinic in Indiana and when the kids found out we were there all week, we would go to a barn every night and work with a group. It’s so rewarding to help students at a clinic and see them go from running a 21 in the poles to breaking the 20 second barrier at their next rodeo – we help in all the events, poles, goats, barrels & tie down.”
Part of what they educate people about is their horse. “You ride the horse the style he goes. You can tweak it and make it better, but at the end of the day he’s got a style – you have to learn that. I just did that about a month and a half ago. He wasn’t the style I wanted to continue to ride. I make sure they understand that,” said Sherrylynn. “Maybe we don’t come from money so we understand how much it costs to do the sport we love. Our clinics are designed by the person that puts them on to help their individual groups and what they can afford. The majority of people don’t have six figures to buy a horse.”
They also talk about tack and bits – and they have developed a line of barrel racing and roping saddles with Circle Y. The Johnson sportline racer and roper has evolved over time. “We have a nice saddle with a ten year warranty. We’ve been super fortunate with them. They give us try saddles for the kids to try – they can work the barrels, or see how it fits. We’ve been lucky that way.”
The couple has worked their entire life to do what they doing now. They have an extended family with several of their repeat clinics, including Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyo. “We’ve gone back twice a year for the past three years. – it’s our third year going there and we get to see those kids improve. They bring us in as their family and it makes us feel good – it’s a special place for us.”
They don’t have a five year, or ten year plan, but they do have a one year. “My guess is we’ll still be rodeoing and doing clinics,” said Mike.