The path to the college finals, Spratt excited to compete in breakaway for the CNFR
“I grew up competing in rodeo, and it has been a part of my whole life. All of my family is very interested in it,” says Coralee Spratt, a sophomore student at Gillette College.
Spratt began competing in rodeo during junior high, and it was in high school where she won her first region championship for breakaway.
“Rodeo differs from other high school sports in that once a person graduates, they are no longer able to compete in that sport anymore,” added Spratt. “With rodeo, there’s always another rodeo to go to and compete in.”
Spratt is currently a member of the Gillette College rodeo team and is looking forward to competing at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, June 15-21. This is Spratt’s second time of qualifying to compete in breakaway roping for the CNFR.
Spratt is one of four women of the Gillette College rodeo team who individually qualified to compete in this year’s CNFR.
“At the CNFR, I’m hoping I can help my team because we have a very good chance of winning the national title,” says Spratt, “and as a team we are all very encouraging and competitive.”
Earlier in the season, Spratt won the breakaway roping event in the Central Rocky Mountain Region, as well as the breakaway competition at the Kari Burns Memorial.
“Coralee’s ability to rope calves is probably the best I’ve ever had at Gillette College,” states Will LaDuke, Gillette College Rodeo head coach, “and I think we’ve had a team for approximately eight years.”
He continues, “She’s just the best with the rope we’ve ever had at Gillette College, and I think she’s ranked right up there. I’m sure she expects a lot out of herself this week at CNFR, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her do well on a national level, as well.”
To keep up with her competitive edge, Spratt practices her breakaway technique every night on two to three horses. During the summer she practices at home with her family and competes in several jackpot rodeos around the state.
Spratt mentions that, to compete in breakaway, there is a limited amount of rodeos she can partake in.
While she enjoys breakaway the most, she also competes in barrel racing, goat tying and team roping when competing at rodeos.
“Every competition we go to is going to be different, and as a competitor, it makes us change and think about what we are going to do. That’s also the fun part,” explains Spratt. “We always have to keep getting better if we want to keep winning.”
“I love that I can never grow out of being able to rodeo. A person can compete in rodeo their whole life,” she says. “It’s also fun traveling to rodeos with my family and to compete with them, as well.”
Spratt mentions it is undeniable that every competitor in rodeo dreams about becoming a national champion, and she is hopeful that she is working towards that goal.
“When I’m competing, I concentrate on one run at a time and try not to be so oriented on becoming a national champion,” states Spratt. “I focus on each run and hope at the end of it I’ll be a contender.”
“Last year at the CNFR I didn’t do so well, but hopefully this year it will be much better,” she adds.
When asked how Spratt is as a competitor, LaDuke responded, “Coralee is a great kid. I think she’ll do well at the CNFR. I know she certainly expects it of herself.”
With all her rodeo experience, Spratt does not foresee rodeo as being a part of her future career. She is, however, planning on returning to Gillette College in the fall to complete her degree in psychology and social sciences.
“After college I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing, but I just can’t see myself pursing a career in rodeo,” comments Spratt. “Right now, the only opportunity for women in the professional ranks of rodeo is in barrel racing, and I’m not very interested in that.”
Along with having a family connection through rodeo, the Spratts also raise their own horses they use to compete on at rodeos.
“It’s really cool that, in our family, all of the horses that we compete on are our own,” states Spratt. “My dad and grandpa rope calves and team rope on our horses, and it was my dad that taught me a lot in breakaway.”
She adds, “The whole family takes part in raising the horses. My dad breaks them in and then all of us take them to rodeos to compete further on them in the rodeo arena.”