PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, December 17, 2009
I am writing this month's letter from Tulsa, Oklahoma only a few hours after closing the door on the 2009 WPRA World Finals. Literally!! I am realizing that if I had written this in the wee hours of the morning following day #1 of the Finals instead of 2:00 AM on the Sunday following the last performance, the tone might have been different. But when you see the victories during the several days of competition there is no way I cannot be pleased and positive.
When the crew arrived at various hours between Monday and Tuesday morning to begin setting the stage for this year's production it hit me just how important this group of people would be to me, and ultimately to the association, as individuals and as a collective body, throughout the next several days. Their attitude and work ethic would be imperative. And they didn't fail to deliver. I cannot thank them enough for their endless hours of teamwork.
This is not to say that we don't realize there were dropped balls, missed cues, need for apologies for various oversights and missed opportunities for words of thanks. I truly appreciated those that took the time to talk to me about their issues, disappointments and suggestions. Please know that letting me know what's on your mind will always be valued. It's not what is said but how it's delivered. Constructive criticism, as they say, is always a positive thing to deal with. The World Finals and the membership are this association's biggest assets and seeing it develop to its maximum potential to benefit the members is vital to our future.
When we look at the big picture of World Finals week we need to reflect on the blessings shown through the true strength, determination and courage of the women that make up the WPRA. It was a very proud and reflective privilege to see Dolli Lautaret competing at the Finals this weekend. Competing only one month following surgery to remove a brain tumor, Dolli clearly demonstrates the courage and strength that made her a WPRA world champion only a few years ago. She is such an inspiration.
I was also proud and impressed with the determination demonstrated by Junior member Lake Mehalic during the 2009 season. Lake earned '09 points during the months of late 2008 when competition was allowed on a 2008 membership card for the 2009 season where rules require the 2009 card purchase before January 1 to retain those earnings. Oversight to pay the '09 dues on time caused Lake to lose those points. When it was brought to light it seemed devastating and insurmountable. But, Lake didn't let it deter her. She took the challenge to start over with winnings that resulted in her leaving Tulsa as the newly crowned Junior World Champion. What a proud moment to witness. I was so excited for her.
The rodeo performances ran like clock work. The Sky High Angels drill team were a great crowd pleaser this year. The barrel racing and roping competitions were awesome. Congratulations to all the newly crowned world champions for 2009. The full coverage of the 2009 World Finals will be written for the January issue of WPRN. Many thanks for every member who traveled to Tulsa to support the WPRA with their talent.
Our valued sponsors also played a major roll in the production of the 2009 World Finals. I want to thank them for partnering with us to bring this event to fruition. Please make note of them all and take time to let them know how very much they are appreciated.
I am pleased to announce that Brenda Mays, Sabra O'Quinn, Laura Lambert and Tana Poppino will join me as members of the Contestant Advisory Council announced last month. Beginning the first of January we will meet monthly via conference calls to discuss issues regarding the barrel racing events approved at PRCA rodeos. I appreciate these top competitors taking the time necessary to serve in this capacity.
Now it's time to turn our attention to the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas. An NFR qualification is the ultimate aspiration for all who barrel race in the ranks of the WPRA. Best wishes and luck is sent to the best 15 WPRA cowgirls in the world.
The WPRA will be turning the spotlight on the rodeo committees with the Justin Best Footing awards, will honor the best contract personnel and special people who have supported the association during the past year and will feature personal interviews with the Top 15 during its Star Celebration awards reception during NFR week in Las Vegas on December 3rd. Emcees for the event will be WPRA Announcer of the Year, Alan Moorhead and many time world champion, Joe Beaver. If you are in Vegas for the Finals please come and join us for our star studded event.
Until next month, Happy Trails.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, November 1, 2009
The 2010 season has officially begun but I must admit that it is hard to grasp that fact with all of the administrative work that is focused on the many "Finals" events taking place this time of the year. The office is swamped overseeing the official audits for each WPRA/PRCA circuit standings, the WPRA World Standings and the NFR standings, in addition to membership mailings for 2010 membership processing, challenge letters and NFR invitations plus new database paralleling, etc. But, it is all moving in a forward direction so all is positive.
I especially enjoyed having an opportunity to meet many members of the several rodeo committees during the 2009 Committee conference hosted by the Association of Rodeo Committees during the Omaha rodeo. I found having the committees' positive ear to hear views from the contestants' point of view was invaluable. I thank ARC for the opportunity created by the conference. And, I am happy to say that the WPRA is a proud member!
A big thank you goes out to the Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo committee for hosting a great event as the Justin Playoff Finals. What a tremendous schedule of events they have going on there in addition to the rodeo. Congratulations to Lindsey Sears for her repeat win this year. "Martha" performed outstandingly again and her awesome style proved to be a credit this year when the footing failed to hold during the Finals round. Although the fastest time of the rodeo was turned in by Kelli Tolbert during the semi-final round segment of Saturday night's performance, the ground around the second barrel totally gave out from under her talented mare during the Finals' round. Thankfully, Kelli nor her horse were seriously injured. Please know that I and Ak-Sar-Ben president, Beth Griener, have discussed a plan of approach for next year.
The Turquoise and Badlands circuits have already pulled the curtain on their circuit finals rodeos and the month of November hosts seven more. It is a very busy time for everyone in rodeo's competitive world.
By the time you're reading this November letter many of you will be traveling to Tulsa to compete in the WPRA World Finals. One can't say there won't be something to do at all hours of the day and night. The Expo Square facility will be hopping with roping and barrel racing competition from early morning until evening. Then, if you don't win big bucks during the day maybe your luck will change in the evening. You can carry your competitive edge to the slot machines and gaming tables at the Hard Rock Casino before retiring for the night!
This is a reminder for you to be looking for Election nomination ballots in your mailbox this November. This will get our directorships back on schedule. Nominations for directors representing Badlands, Great Lakes, California, Prairie, Southeastern, Futurity and the Roping & Rough Stock Division are scheduled to be mailed November 5th and must be returned to the auditors by November 25th . The top 2 names receiving the most nominations will then go on the election ballots which will be mailed December 10th with a return deadline of December 29th. The newly elected directors will take office on January 15th. Please don't miss the opportunity to vote.
Tough economic realities have faced us this year and with the guidance of Janet Cropper's administrative and management skills we have made hard decisions and held hard lines with our budget and cash flow ledgers. While there has been stinging consequences and sacrifices during this 2009 season, I am confident that 2010 will feel less caustic and it will enable us to continue on our positive path through 2011.
One decision will cause WPRA activities held during the NFR to look a bit different this year. Since the elections will bring several new members to the Board table I felt that budgeting and programming decisions for the upcoming season should include them. So, we are foregoing a full week of BOD meetings, as have been the norm during most previous years. Also, the annual Committee Reception and the annual Top 15 Luncheon are becoming a combined event. It will be one big party with the opportunity for the WPRA to recognize and award everyone, Rodeo Commitees, Stock Contractors, Contract Personnel and the elite top 15 barrel racers in the world together. This event will be held on Thursday, December 3rd in the Ballroom at South Point Casino at 11:00 AM and it is open to everyone who wants to attend. Please plan to join us in celebrating the WPRA's cream of the crop for 2009.
There are many plans make this next year significantly bigger and better for us all. Join up, join in and be ready to compete to the max during 2010. Until next month, Happy Trails
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, October 3, 2009
I just came back from Puyallup, Wash., and the exciting Justin Boots Playoffs. The weather was beautiful through the entire rodeo. An extended thank you goes out to the Puyallup rodeo committee for the hospitality shown to all of the rodeo contestants and staff who attended. The barrel racers really appreciated the committee's decision in hiring Ted Groene to work their ground. Ted made a special effort to pack each load of dirt as it was brought in and it held up great for all five performances. Congratulations to PJ Burger for winning both go rounds and the average and to Brittany Pozzi for winning the final championship round. Read all about it in this issue.
It is hard to believe that only six months have gone by since I have taken the reins as your president and 2009 is over already. I am proud of all that has been accomplished during this relatively short time frame. We have invested a great deal of energy into implementing administrative procedures necessary to meet the diverse needs of our membership. I am pleased that we have assembled an energetic staff that realizes their main focus is member services. This will be a forever changing task and I am confident that you have seen results from this effort.
The 2009 season has been a "bridge building" year. We are making necessary strides for better communication to all facets of rodeo. The WPRA has joined the Association of Rodeo Committees. After a lengthy conversation with ARC Chairman, Gary Williams, I am anxious to attend their meetings to learn and understand the challenges the WPRA committees deal with keeping their events viable and productive to the industry.
As I previously mentioned, the WPRA and PRCA entered into an agreement to seek sponsorship opportunities for professional rodeo jointly. We are pleased to have signed Western Integrity's Katie Hollingsworth as the WPRA Sponsorship Coordinator and she has already been working with PRCA Properties in developing the marketing plan to seek new corporate sponsors.
The Contestant Advisory Council is still in development stages but I plan to have it set in place for the 2010 season. I am pleased that the PRCA has been open to barrel racers having a voice on this council.
Although the 2009 has ended there are so many things going on in the WPRA at this time:
WPRA Futurity and PESI program: The WPRA is committed to developing the best barrel horses in the industry and our Futurity program is where it's at. The ProElite Sire Incentive program is producing many, many bonus opportunities for the equine athletes enrolled. Don't let these dollars pass you by. Get your mounts enrolled now.
PRCA Circuit Finals Rodeos: All circuit finalists should be aware that our Wrangler sponsorship offers each Circuit Finals Champion a $250 bonus if you win the average title wearing Wrangler jeans. What a great deal! Make sure your Wrangler's are packed when your circuit finals rolls around.
WPRA World Finals: The 2009 event in Tulsa is shaping up to be the best produced Finals ever. It will be an opportunity for barrel racers to get a jump start in point earnings for 2010 and will crown all roping, futurity/derby and junior world champions!!! Be sure to get entered. With all the "wild card" slots available no one should miss the chance to compete.
Wrangler NFR: The Wrangler Million Dollar Tour will end with the Justin Boots Championship event in Omaha, Neb., to determine which of the WPRA's top 15 will head to Las Vegas in December. By the time you read this you will know who they are!
The Board of Directors met for two very long days at the end of August. Thank you to all of you who sent in your rule proposals. Decisions of the Board regarding these proposals will be posted to our website. Please keep in mind, as you read through them that the notation of "passed" or "failed" does not reflect how much time and/or debate was taken on that particular proposal, nor does it specifically mean that the concept of the proposed rule was rejected or accepted. Individual proposals had to be considered as they were submitted. As such, specific wording or terminology was considered. "Failed" does not mean that the concept of the proposal was abandoned or denied as often it was addressed by another proposal or clarification to a current rule was all that was necessary. Also, rule changes need to be considered from an administrative vantage point. Many of the proposals stimulated new direction and time is needed to create supportive administrative processes. Please be patient as we continue to grow. We are continually trying to find the best thread to weave all members' unique needs. A priority for 2010 will be to look for opportunities for developing programs and opportunities for all WPRA members.
So much to do and never enough time!! Best of luck to everyone who qualified for all the many Finals this past season offered. 2010 is upon us.
Until next month, Happy Trails.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, September 1, 2009
The 2009 season is nearing the end. The Justin Tour Championships are this month's season ending finale. We are proud that the WPRA contestants will be competing for the same purse money as all the men's events. I wish all the tour qualifiers the best of luck at both Puyallup and Omaha. I am looking forward to watching it all!
The WPRA and the PRCA continue to work together to promote the professional rodeo industry jointly. I am very pleased to announce that we have officially entered into an agreement to seek sponsorship opportunities that will benefit both organizations. More will be released about the joint co-sponsorship agreement in the near future.
Beginning with the 2010 season I will be assembling a group of five barrel racers willing to serve on the Contestant Advisory Council. This group, composed of 5 members, (3 who are ranked in the top 50 and 2 who compete predominately within circuit ranks) will meet via conference call each month with me and the PRCA to discuss issues that affect them as competitors. A similarly composed five member group, representing each of the PRCA's eight events, also meets during monthly meetings. The barrel racers will now have an equal opportunity to voice concerns about our event and deliver suggestions for resolutions and understanding. Next month I will announce the names of those selected to represent us. I feel this is an example of how the WPRA's willingness to communicate is benefiting us with a positive format to express our issues within the industry.
Everyone should be looking forward to competing at the World Finals this November. The website is busting with information about how the competition will be formatted for the 2009 event, how and when to enter, competition schedule, hotel and party information and much more. Make sure to check it out on www.wpra.com
Please note that the World Finals is a year end "championship" event for all competitors who compete in Breakaway, Tie Down, Team Roping, Junior and Futurity/Derby competition. The barrel racing competition at the World Finals is a limited entry WPRA lead sanctioned event that serves as a qualifying event for the 2010 season. The barrel racing world championship title will not be decided until the end of the Wrangler NFR.
Another point that you might want to remember is that qualifications for entering the barrel race at the World Finals is earned by your position in the WPRA world and circuit standings. But, "wild card" slots give opportunity for any WPRA member who enters a chance to compete. If you need better understanding as to how you may earn a "wild card" spot please read the information concerning the Finals on the website or contact your circuit representative or the WPRA office for clarification. You don't want to miss an opportunity to compete at the World Finals because you failed to make your entry at the correct time.
The deadline for the September issue of the WPRN will be before the Board of Directors meet on August 30th & 31st so the September issue will not be carrying the new rules passed for the 2010 season. Please be sure to keep an eye on the website for these new rules as they will be in place beginning October 1, 2009. As promised, the 2010 rulebooks will be in your hands before the end of the fiscal year.
By the time that this information reaches you I will be hoping to meet many of the members who reside and are competing in the Columbia River circuit. I will be at Ellensburg, WA during the slack and then will be traveling to Puyallup for the Tour Playoffs. Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself to me. I am anxious to talk with you about all that you are experiencing on the rodeo trail this season.
I hope that I will see many of you at the Justin Tour Playoffs and Finals this month and don't forget to plan the WPRA World Finals into your schedule for this November.
Until next month I wish you all Happy Trails.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, July 29, 2009
The summer has really heated up and Brittany Pharr was definitely sizzlin' during the 4th of July week. Winning $29,000 in one week is an incredible feat. Congratulations to her and her great mounts.
The Reno membership meeting was beneficial in bringing to light the many issues those of you on the road are dealing with on a day to day basis. I appreciated getting insight to all of your concerns. They will be brought to the attention of the Board of Directors to address at the next meeting scheduled for August 30-31 in Colorado Springs. Thank you to all of those that attended for your time and constructive comments.
I am very pleased and proud of the professional work our office staff is producing this year. The volume of work created during the busy July 4th week is always taxing and I can say that this year things went especially smooth. The results were gathered, audited and standings updated very proficiently and checks to the secretaries and members were out the door in record time. I hope that you are noting the improvement in customer service they are providing.
This has been an especially hard month for many of our members. The sad and untimely death of Tammy Key-Fischer's son, Riley, and June Holeman's daughter, Tammy, has saddened all of us in the rodeo world. Being the true professionals they are, each of these two barrel racers have continued competing through their grief. Our deepest sympathy goes out to them both.
I hope that you are all taking time to look at your individual Circuit pages on the website as this is the place to get the most updated news of the happenings in your specific areas. You will find some important information about the circuit rodeo counts and circuit cut off dates on these pages. You can find these circuit pages at the top of the home page under NEWS and then clicking on the drop down for Current News. There is information about the policy for updating the circuit standings and the circuit count and a weekly update of the rodeos that are included or not included in those counts.
The first point audit for the barrel racing event will be coming out approximately August 1st. Please pay careful attention to this information and compare it to the tallies you personally keep track of. If there are any discrepancies we need you to contact us so corrections can be made as the season goes along.
Please be sure to read about the ProElite Sire Incentive program that is growing in leaps and bounds for our association. The bonuses that will be available this season could be profitable to all of our members if you are riding progeny of our enrolled stallions. Bonuses will be available to those in the roping events as well as the barrel race at the World Finals, the PRCA circuit finals and the NFR. Take note and see if your mount will qualify!!
Plans for the WPRA World Finals are looking great for our November kickoff. Please keep an eye on the WPRA website as details will be unfolding at a rapid rate in the weeks to come. Look for some exciting news about our host hotel (an especially fun place to party) and some great companies that will be partnering with the WPRA as sponsors of this year's premier showcase.
The WPRA is rolling along and making great strides. Please keep contacting us with your input. We need and appreciate it.
Here's wishing you safe travels during the next busy month.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, July 15, 2009
Only 3 more months left in the 2009 season. I can't believe how fast it has been spinning by. I hope that all of your travels have been safe and profitable.
The WPRA has made great strides so far this season.
As of mid-June our membership numbers have steadily grown. The ProFuturity and ProDerby events are jumping in leaps and bounds and the benefits for having horses enrolled in the ProElite Sire Incentive program are scheduled to pay bonuses throughout the year as well as at the World Finals. Many roping approvals are also coming into the office so the opportunities for our roping members to earn points/dollars are growing rapidly. These facts give me confidence that those paying attention to the world of rodeo are well aware the WPRA is back on solid ground.
I had a great time attending the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping in Fort Worth on Memorial Day weekend. 248 women's teams began the competition, which was an entries increase of 20%, (there's lots of female ropers out there), and it was so exciting watching WPRA member Kasey Etbauer, partnered with Beth Looney, throw the dead-on heel loop to secure the championship. I loved it and hope I get the opportunity to get to another big roping very soon.
By the time you get this issue I will have seen some of you in Reno. I plan to get to as many other rodeos, ropings, and barrel races as possible while trying to be conscious of the expenditures associated with travel. I plan to make it to all 12 circuits by the end of my term next year. The website will keep you updated where we will hold informal membership meetings throughout the year.
The conversations with the PRCA continue to be productive. Commissioner Stressman and I have continued dialogue concerning the trials and tribulations facing the rodeo industry and have discussed opportunities for our two associations to work together to deal with those challenges. We are working with PRCA administration to align our offices so processes and procedures will have more conformity for rodeo contestants and rodeo committees. There are an over whelming number of details we must sift through so we can create policies that will commingle. The open dialogue has been productive in moving these efforts forward and I thank everyone, from both sides of the fence, for working together to make this happen.
We appreciated your submission of rule proposals through the website. That has made it an easy process for our office to document and confirm each of them. We will compile, sort and print these for your view soon after the July 1st deadline and post them to the website. These will be discussed and voted on at the next BOD meeting scheduled for August 30-31 in Colorado Springs.
The WPRA World Finals details will be announced very soon. There have been great efforts to reorganize and restructure the production of the Finals for this year. I think the efforts to make it special for all competitors will be appreciated.
There will be a survey listed behind the "Help shape the WPRA" icon on the website which we will appreciate you participating in. This survey will help us gather the information that will enable us to create new avenues for building services and marketing the association. This form of communication has really proven to be expedient way for us to handle new business.
Until I get an opportunity to see you somewhere down the road, I wish you wish you all the best of luck with your 2009 WPRA season.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, May 27, 2009
Dear WPRA Members:
It is hard to believe that I have only served as president for a little more than two months. It feels like it has been longer because so many positive things have come to fruition during that time.
I am very pleased with the steps climbed by our office staff during the last several months. Janet Cropper, our interim executive secretary, has created new policies and procedures for our day to day business which gives the staff the tools needed to perform their duties with much more efficiency and accountability. I realize each of you may have a need you would like solved or idea that you would like to see implemented. Please know we gather all suggestions, review them, assess them for impact, and determine where it sits in our queue. Based on priority we diligently work each day toward implementing something new. Day by day and step by step, we are making progress. I believe our level of customer service will continue to increase.
I would like to again remind you that the deadline for submitting rule proposals for 2010 is July 1st. Please click the “Have a rule proposal idea for 2010?” button on the upper left corner to submit a rule for the Board to consider at the August BOD meeting. We have moved up the date for sending in rule proposals so we can get the 2010 rule book out in November, 2009. Don’t miss this yearly opportunity to make changes.
A new feature being added to the WPRA website this week is Circuit News pages. These pages are designed to allow Circuit Directors to communicate quickly and frequently with their circuit members. You can find your circuit’s page by going to the top of the WPRA web page, clicking on News and clicking on Current Circuit News. Beneath the map of the circuits is a listing of circuits, just click on your circuit. Also, the link to the “Help shape the WPRA with your input” button will be ready approximately June 1, 2009.
I have continued dialogue with Commissioner Stressman and we have brought our key people together to begin strategizing about the joint marketing and sponsorship initiatives that we will seek on behalf of professional rodeo.
I have also had the opportunity to meet with Kay Bleakly about the efforts both associations will make to share the information required to interface our associations’ administrative concerns. We both feel this will help to keep our rodeo policies and procedures consistent for the benefit of the members and committees alike.
I am excited about how this year is unfolding and look forward to us continuing down the positive trail we have begun to forge.
PRESIDENT'S COLUMN UPDATE — WEBSITE, May 12, 2009
Over the past few years the WPRA has used the theme line, “Where the elite compete®” and while only a theme line, it really does convey the value we try to provide to our members. We've stood at the pinnacle of barrel racing success for over 60 years, representing our roots at the rodeos.
Yet the barrel racing market has changed, most noticeably in the last 15 years. During that time the broader category of barrel racing has experienced unprecedented growth with the introduction of jackpots, the “D” format and futurity events. This is in contrast with the overall world of rodeo, which has not experienced similar growth.
This WPRA Board, as well as the past one, recognized that in order to be a healthy and growing association, to be “Where the elite complete,” we need to do three things. First, we need to expand our vision. Second, we need to become more inclusive of a broader base of barrel racers. Third, we need to make investments to support our growth. If you think of our association as a pyramid, with rodeo competition at the top, you quickly recognize the pyramid also needs a solid and strong base — which not only supports the whole structure but provides a clear path to the top.
The decision made last week to fund the Tour rodeos was a decision made to invest in one part of our future — supporting the top of the pyramid where professional rodeo lives. As you know, Directors are elected and represent a wide range of members from different geographies with similar and dissimilar views. While it was not an easy decision, the majority of the Directors felt it was the right thing to do.
The decision made in the past and continuing today to develop the WPRA World Finals is also a decision to invest in another part of our future — supporting the rest of the pyramid with a variety of events.
Both of these decisions have financial consequences. The Board knows this and also knows it is their responsibility to oversee funding, while ensuring the well being and growth of our association. The Board has been tasked with doing this and will report on their progress.
As we move forward we understand the importance of improving the flow of communications between all members of our organization. It is an area in which we will provide much more time and energy. While your Circuit Director is available to share information and answer questions, we recognize they can’t be everywhere all the time. Starting today, we are introducing more ways to get important information out to you and providing more ways for you to provide your input back to us.
On our WPRA home page, please note 5 new communications areas in the upper left hand corner, just under the WPRA logo. They cover the following important ways to increase our communications with you.
1. Board meeting summaries is a new area which will hold information from each of our 3 yearly Board meetings, as well as other meetings where important member decisions are being made.
2. Contact us, which has been on the site since December, is a very easy way to get a quick answer to standard questions. When you click on it, an email addressed to us automatically pops up and you write in your question. Members have been using it since December with good reviews.
3. President’s update is another new area in which Kathi Myers, WPRA President, has committed to providing you with a monthly update on important issues affecting the WPRA.
4. Help shape the WPRA with your input is another new area where we ask you to reach out to us with your input on a number of WPRA issues. This information, in addition to direct feedback, will be used by Directors when making decisions.
5. Have a rule proposal for 2010 is our last new area which will help us receive, track and process your new rule proposals for 2010.
In closing, your Board continues to work on issues which are important to you and the future of the WPRA. We are committed to growing the association, to continuously improving communications with you and living up to our theme line “Where the elite compete.”