Taking part in the WCRA is a family affair in the Freeman family: Junior breakaway roper Kerstin Freeman, 16, is No. 1 on the Division Youth (DY) Junior Leaderboard while big brother Garret Freeman, 18, ranks No. 3 on the DY Junior Team Roping Header Leaderboard.
Of course, mother knows best and, according to Garret’s and Kerstin’s mom, Mandy Freeman, there are many reasons for families to compete in the WCRA, especially those with youth athletes:
1. The WCRA is for family.
By nominating their high school and amateur rodeos, the Freemans can compete in the breakaway and team roping and earn points through the VRQ (Virtual Rodeo Qualifier), which will allow them to qualify for WCRA Major Events, including the $55,000 WCRA DY Showcase at the Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo, set to take place at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 17, 2022.
“Kerstin is already qualified to go to Fort Worth in December, and Garrett is too, so we’re all looking forward to that,” Mandy said. “There are just so many opportunities for them.”
2. The WCRA works with their busy schedules.
While running a cow operation in Cooper, Texas, and balancing schoolwork with Garrett, 18, a senior in high school, and Kerstin, 16, a junior, both of whom will graduate with associate degrees, the WCRA fits their busy schedules.
“Roping is all they do,” Mandy said. “That’s their only activity. We hit it hard every day after we get home from school and work to practice, and we go hard on the weekends.”
3. The WCRA makes nominating easy.
Nominating for the WCRA is simple. If the event has public and verifiable results, you can earn points, cash bonuses and qualify for WCRA Major Events, which makes it a perfect fit for the Freemans, who have a full schedule of jackpots, high school rodeos and amateur rodeos.
“That’s Kerstin’s main thing is jackpots,” Mandy said. “We’re at a jack almost every weekend. Then we’ve got high school rodeos and they amateur rodeo hard. They do UPRA [United Professional Rodeo Association] rodeos and Louisiana [Louisiana Rodeo Cowboys Association] rodeos.”
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4. The WCRA provides more opportunities for youth athletes.
The WCRA supports youth in rodeo through the WCRA DY, a yearlong, worldwide leaderboard race of rodeo events that culminates at the World Championship Junior Rodeo. The event will have more than $200,000 in added money and will take place in Guthrie, Oklahoma, at the Lazy E Arena July 25–29, 2023.
“We just saw it as another opportunity for youth being able to compete on another level,” Mandy said. “We had Josie Conner recommend it and we thought that the Division Youth would be a good way to go.”
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5. The WCRA supports breakaway ropers.
From the very beginning, the WCRA has supported breakaway ropers at every level, from the Open to the YD, giving them more opportunities and equal pay.
“Kerstin dropped barrel racing and pole bending and goat tying and just started strictly focusing on breakaway,” Mandy said. “That’s about the time when breakaway just really started taking off. So, the WCRA just gave her that chance. We could take her and still compete with the professionals but, also, nominate on some levels.”