The way Kolby Boyett sees it, she was born to rodeo.
In fact, Boyett, 14, an eighth grader at Grove Middle School, often jokes with family she was "born with a rope in her hand."
The rope, along with skills she's gained as the reigning Arkansas Junior High Rodeo Association state champion in breakaway roping, will be put to the test on Friday, Sept. 29, as Boyett competes in the American Royal Invitational Youth Rodeo, in Kansas City, Missouri.
The competition, which began earlier this week, includes bull riding, barrel racing, and mutton busting, along with other traditional rodeo events.
Since 2007, students competing in the American Royal rodeo have earned more than $75,500 in scholarships, along with additional prize money and awards.
For Boyett, taking part in the American Royal rodeo gives her a chance to compete where a multitude of champions have once stood.
"Rodeo has taught me to adjust to different things a calf might do, to be humble and to be really patient," Boyett said. "It's also taught me to think ahead of my horse a lot."
She's looking forward to having the opportunity to talk with students attending the rodeo, about the sport she loves.
"It's a fun event and one of the biggest you can go to each year," Boyett said. "The crowd [will be] crazy."
She's also looking forward to reconnecting with rodeo friends, some of whom she has not seen in awhile.
"It's just a fun atmosphere," Boyett said. "It gets you really excited."
Boyett's rodeo dreams are nurtured by her family. Multiple members, including her parents, grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins, also rodeo.
"I'm thankful for my family, for all they do for me," Boyett said. "They go lots of places and support me a lot."
She takes part, primarily in Arkansas based competitions, because of the close proximity, as well as her family ties. Her cousins Eliza and Tye Downing also compete in Arkansas.
"I couldn't do it without them," Boyett said. "This is something we all enjoy. We get to travel together and help each other out. Someone is always there to help you out."
Locally, she competes in the Flying Cow Youth Rodeo series and in events hosted at the Grove Round Up Club.
In addition to breakaway roping, Boyett also team ropes. She competes in the AJHRA, as well as the National Little Britches Association. Most recently she competed in both events at the National Junior High Rodeo Association competition.
She pursued team roping as an event because it allows her to follow in her father's footsteps. She likes the breakaway event because it is the "fastest" event in the rodeo.
Boyett said breakaway roping used to be a male-only sport. It's only recently women began to break into the competition. She dreams of competing first at the collegiate, and later the professional level in the sport.
In addition to rodeo, Boyett plays basketball for the Grove Middle School girls team, and is a discovery member of the Grove FFA.
Boyett is the daughter of Karla and Kelly Boyett, sister of KaCee Boyett (who often serves as her sister's videographer), and granddaughter to Fred Parks of Neosho, Missouri, and Lois Parks, Betty Boyett and the late Don Boyett, all of Grove.
About American Royal Association
The American Royal Association has been a fixture in Kansas City since 1899. In 2016, more than 90,000 people took part in the American Royal events, which includes a livestock show and the rodeo, in Kansas City, Missouri.