Breakaway Benefactor: South Dakota’s Carole Hollers

Carole Hollers has taught clinics for 29 years in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and her influence extends across the sport of breakaway roping.

Hollers at the 2017 SDRA Finals | Courtesy Carole Hollers

Nobody introduced more girls to breakaway roping than Carole Hollers. She’s in her 29th year putting on clinics out of Jerry Golliher’s indoor arena near Belle Fourche, South Dakota. That’s more than 1,200 girls–and counting–she’s nurtured.

“People wanted to learn to rope faster,” says Hollers, who once pulled checks at 18 of 20 amateur rodeos. “I was one of the first people that could be fast frequently.”

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She was so addicted, growing up in Wisconsin, that she spent hours roping buckets, bales and even headstones at the nearby cemetery. Come the 1980s, she was instrumental in hustling money and prizes–and just inclusion.

Hollers and students at a 2019 clinic.

“Breakaway wasn’t a mandatory event at amateur rodeos,” she recalls. “We had two contractors that wanted no part of it. I called and talked to them and dealt with theme for like two years. Once they had it, they wouldn’t have not had it.”

Hollers won the SDRA year-end title four times from 1989 to 2001 and the NRCA seven times starting in 1987. She was also the director of the PWRA in 1998-99, when all-girl rodeos were full-blown, and made the WNFR six times in breakaway and four times in tie-down roping.

“My goal was to go to the Women’s NFR and back in the box at the Lazy E where everybody that was anybody had backed in that corner,” recalls Hollers, who flew to places like Georgia for PWRA rodeos. “When the WNFR went to Fort Worth, it was even cooler.”

Hollers is still taking names despite being a grandma. She qualified for RFD-TV’s The American last year, and her daughter made it all the way to AT&T Stadium. When she and her daughter posed for a photo wearing their back numbers at Cheyenne Frontier Days last summer, she was one of the reasons it happened.

“I remember the days of trying to convince the amateur rodeo producers to use an electric eye as standard in the barrel race,” she says. “They wouldn’t even try. They’d say it didn’t work or set it up and not use it. It was the same ten years ago getting the amateur association to co-approve their breakaway with the WPRA. They’d pat me on the head and say, ‘We’ll think about it.’ I gave up and called the committee of each rodeo independently and got breakaway co-approved that way.”

Hollers’ induction on November 7 as a Rodeo Great into the Casey Tibbs Rodeo South Dakota Rodeo Center is no surprise. BRJ