The next level

Tia Brannan takes advantage of summer to prepare for rodeos

The instructions Tia Brannan received from her new rodeo coach were simple -- keep going to rodeos.

"He told me to keep tying goats all summer," she said. "That was easy enough."

Brannan will be a part of Bill Vossler's Laramie County Community College rodeo team in Cheyenne, Wyo.

"Breakaway and goats have really come together this summer," she said. "I might be the only girl that does more than two events for the team."

Brannan also plans to barrel race at LCCC.

"I've had some troubles with my barrels horse," she said. "But we're working on that."

Other than going to every rodeo she can this summer, Brannan said she is using a weightlifting program.

She is preparing for a competitive situation almost every day at school.

"There are four girls spots and six boys spots on the team and about 20 to 30 rodeo members," she said. "When we first get up there, we practice for two weeks straight and then the coach names the initial team," she said. "Then during the season you can challenge anybody you want, and if someone doesn't do well at a rodeo, you can move up to a varsity position."

If not an official team member, the cowpoke still can travel to the rodeos.

"Every time you compete, you are doing it for points, but you're also doing it to keep a spot on the team."

The LCCC team competes in the Central Rocky Mountain Region with the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University.

"It's very competitive," Brannan said, "and of all the national qualifiers in goats, only two graduated this year."

Brannan knows it will be a challenge going against juniors and seniors.

"I really want to focus on consistency," she said. "You have to be fast, but you have to be smart, too."

She has arranged her class schedule so she can practice in the mornings and evenings.

"One thing that I'm trying to work on this summer is a routine for training," she said. "At school, I'll have time to practice by myself, and we earn class credits for one of our practice sessions."

She won't be without her trusty steeds at school. There are stables available for those who come from out of town. Her family also purchased a trailer with living quarters for time on the road. But, "I might just travel with the team and have my coach take my horses at first," Brannan said.

Down the road, Brannan plans to attend a four-year college after her two years at LCCC.

"I've talked to U-Dub (University of Wyoming)," she said. "But I would really like to go to CSU."

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