A veteran rider at 16 years of age, Katelyn Turner took her roping to the next level last year at the World Junior Championships in Vegas.
Turner was only 10 when she first started riding. Once she put her feet in the stirrups, they almost never came out.
“I lived in Hollywood, Florida, and they used to have a Wednesday night Jackpot Rodeo,” says Turner, the granddaughter of longtime Chicago-area Italian-American community leader Leonora LiPuma Turner. “Eventually, I wanted to go faster and started barrel racing. Then I found roping calves and it’s been the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Riding fires Turner up and keeps her driven and motivated.
“When I ride and rope, it makes me feel so good and I just want to do it all the time and never stop,” she explains.
Turner has earned accolades on the local, district, state, regional and national levels in every phase of the sport, including barrel racing; pole bending; and goat, calf, breakaway and team roping. A three-event champion with the legendary Davie County, Florida, Rodeo Association, she is a two-time all-around cowgirl champion for the National Barrel Horse Association and an OE Rising Star.
Along the way, she’s lined up K&N Equine Solutions, Triple Crown Feed and Goldberg and Rosen P.A. Trial Attorneys as corporate sponsors.
In December she embarked on the biggest competition of her young career when she vied with 40 other girls ages 16-19 at the Junior World Championships in Las Vegas.
The tournament pits the best of the best from around the world in their age bracket. Riders first have to qualify and then be invited to compete. One would think that you’d have millions of butterflies in your stomach roping in front of so many people on such a grand stage against so many top riders. For Turner, it was just another competition.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be,” she says. “It was actually pretty cool being out in a big city and doing what I love.”
Like many great athletes, Turner has a pre-game routine that puts her in the right frame of mind.
“I like to relax and think about my runs. I also like to just sit there and breathe,” she says. “Breathing is essential.”
Competing in the Junior World Championship made Turner believe that she could rope with the best.
“It makes you feel really good,” she says. “It makes you feel like you can do something and be impactful.”
While she was in Vegas in December, she also competed in Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson’s Vegas Tuffest Jr. She says that it was one of her biggest accomplishments along with the Junior World Championship because the list of invitees is so exclusive.
Not bad for a rider who started doing breakaway roping just last year. To rise that far that fast is a tribute to her talent and drive.
“My biggest motivation is working hard and getting better,” Turner says.
Turner practices every day of the week to improve her craft. It stresses her out when she doesn’t perform up to her expectations during her practice sessions, but it pays off when she makes it to events like the Junior World Championships.
“I’m spending four hours a day working on my rodeo, but you just keep working at it,” Turner says.
Throughout the countless hours of practice and countless miles of travel to one competition or another, Turner has had a strong family to fall back on. A pair of close relatives have experience with horses, but she’s the first member of the family to blaze a trail in the world of competitive riding.
“My Uncle Jerry, who lives in Colorado, rides trails and shoots off a horse and my mom did ride English horses,” Turner notes, but “I’m the only one who really rode.”
With her parents and grandparents in her corner, giving her their full support, Turner makes sure to give it her all and warrant their faith in her.
“I love doing it for myself and to make my dad proud,” Turner says. “My grandma, my dad and my papa all help and support me so much. They help me in any way they can.”
The above appears in the March 2020 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.