FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. - If your heroes have always been cowboys, you haven't met the young cowgirl we found. When we heard about her, we hit the trail to Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Most weekends, you'll find 17-year-old Sadie Wolaver doing what she loves, competing in rodeo events. While most kid her age were learning to ride a bike, Sadie was riding a pony winning belt buckles!
Her mother Jennifer remembers the first time Sadie competed in barrel racing at age 6. “She was just supposed to trot through a barrel pattern, maybe go a little bit faster than that and she looked back at us like nope, I'm running,” Jennifer recalls. “And she took off running and hasn't stopped since.”
Her parents, Jennifer and Joey encouraged her to do other little girl things too. “I tried to make her take dance,” Jennifer said. “She hated it. She wanted to get back on her pony.” That was fine with her dad. “Well, you know I’d rather go to a rodeo,” he said with a laugh.
Sadie’s love of rodeo is a family affair. “I love it,” Joey said. “And I love having them all with us on the weekends.” And his teenage cowgirl wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. She fell in love with the sport. “I just love it,” Sadie said. “Sometimes it's sad not getting to go to high school football games but in the end, I love going and doing what I do every Friday and Saturday night. I wouldn't change that.”
The Wolavers have a stable of horses, but Sadie rides “Little Bit” and “Princess” when she competes. While petting Princess, Sadie said, “She goes about everywhere with me and she's the one I just won the state title on.” Sadie recently won the State Championship in barrel racing for the Tennessee High School Rodeo Association. And she brought home a nice saddle with the title of Champion!
But she also competes in other events too. “I do barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and break away roping,” she said. “Goat tying?” I asked. Sadie said it again with a grin, “Goat tying.” When I asked her if she had video of that, she laughed and said, “I do. I’ve got plenty of them.” She wrangled an impressive third place finish at Nationals last year in Gillette, Wyoming.
She’s racked up quite a belt buckle collection as well, too many to hang on the wall. She has 32 now. “I've given some away to some little boys that might dream of being a cowboy and they wear them around,” she said proudly. ”You can only wear one at a time so it’s okay.”
Sadie’s sharing her blessings and she has he priorities. “My horses, my family and the Man upstairs,” she told me. But not necessarily in that order. “Not in that order,” she said with a smile. “Probably backwards.”
The 11th grader from Lincoln County High School will head to the 69th annual National High School Finals Rodeo in Wyoming in July. It’s the biggest rodeo in the nation with more than 1,750 contestants from 43 states, Canada and Australia. She’ll be competing in barrel racing. We’ll be following her and let you know how she does. Good luck Sadie!