Staci Russell 37 (Detroit, MI)
Q.What made you think about horse riding?
A. I always wanted to learn to ride a horse…. really ride. I met my trainer Keith Morrell, at the buffalo Soldiers barn in Detroit. He just so happens to Rodeo with someone who has a horse there. She told me that if I really wanted to learn, I should take lesson with him. At the age of 28 I started lessons, the second horse I rode was name Reese cup, he came highly recommended. Morrell said if I wanted a chance to become competitive then this the horse to be with. I trusted him and everything has worked out. There is still a lot I do not know but being an athlete from a young child has help my discipline and dedication to the sport remain intact.
Q. How do you feel as a black female competing in this sport?
A. People in the north do not see many black female cowgirls. There is not enough of us young black girls to see and be exposed to the sport that is not typical for an urban kid. I feel as if I am a role model for all young girls. For anyone who started a sport late and are competing with people who have being doing it for a long time I want them to know that preparation + opportunity=success you have to be dedicated by putting in the time. You must be willing to fail so that you can learn from your mistakes. You must change your mindset to “I CAN”. You have to smile, love what you do, and simply “keep it moving even when you are faced with challenges. I try to be and do better than what I did yesterday.
Q. What kind of support do you receive being a female rider?
A. I have received support from a lot of people. I’ve been surrounded by those who have helped me and / or my horse. From people helping or teaching me how to take care of a horse to others supporting and providing sponsorship for the rodeo entry fees, gas, horse, supplements, etc…. There is never a dull moment with a horse. I’ve been able to haul with many great gals around the US and Canada. It has always been a great and unforgettable experience.
Q. How old where you when you rode your first horse?
A. I rode a horse once or twice as a kid. It must have stuck with me. I started to really ride at 28. That was when I purchased my first and only horse, Reese’s Cup.
Q. Whats next for you in the future Ms. Staci Russell?
A. I have been blessed to have One Championship under my belt. It literally came with a championship belt buckle and saddle. I was the 2017 Midstates Rodeo Association Barrel Racing Champion. My goal is to qualify for the IFR(International Finals Rodeo). I almost did in 2018 but Reese suffered and injury. Winning that title would be great, but what is more important to me is having black females’ representation there. The ultimate goal or dream of mine is to build a state-of-the-art youth sports center that includes equestrian sports. Exposure to our urban youth is critical. There are so many opportunities and avenues that kids can learn and go into relating to agriculture, farming, livestock, and western sports but we simply do not know about it because we lack exposure. Look what happened when we put a ball in our kids’ hand. Imagine if we put horses underneath them. That would be something spectacular!!! Until then, I am going to keep riding…. turning and burning!