Lincoln County’s Sadie Wolaver has spent most of her 18 years in a saddle on a horse chasing a pattern of barrels. Sadie started competing in the girls’ rodeo when she was four-years-old, bringing home her first saddle at the age of five. Now, 14 years later, she’s still in the saddle on an 11-year-old mare named Princess, and together they’re making their mark on a professional level.

Sadie qualified for the Tennessee Junior Rodeo Team while in the fourth through the eighth grades. She made the Tennessee High School Rodeo team as a freshman and earned “Rookie of the Year” honors her first year at the national event. Sadie earned State Championship marks her junior and senior years and a third place finish nationally. She finished in the top 10 in International Youth Rodeo competition.

So it’s no wonder as they’ve made the transition from the high school level to the International Professional Rodeo Association, Sadie and Princess are making some noise. Sadie purchased her permit, joining the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association in 2019, competing in professional rodeos. In January, the duo competed in their first International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City where they placed third in the second round, won the fourth round with one of the fastest times of the event and claimed “Rookie of the Year” honors.

Sadie, the daughter of Jennifer and Joey Wolaver of Lincoln County, attends Motlow State Community College with a study in accounting. But, it seems the rodeo life may bring about change. Her success has gotten the attention of several universities offering rodeo scholarships; she seems to be impressed with Southwest Oklahoma State.

“There was never really any question that I’d stay with the sport after high school,” Sadie said. “I love the rodeo and can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. The challenge of working to continually improve drives me. If I’m not riding, I’m thinking about it. There’s some schools with rodeo teams I’m interested in. You can ride for a college team and still compete on a professional level.

“Goal setting is a very important factor in the sport of rodeo,” she said. “In order to better ourselves, we must push ourselves farther than we might have thought possible. Each year, I have a goal that is bigger than last year. If your goals do not become higher each year, then you are mentally telling yourself that you are as good as you’re gonna get.

“I have been very blessed in so many ways,” Sadie added. “I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the most, for without him, none of this would ever be possible. Also, my parents for doing everything they can to support me in this sport. I have a wonderful horse who runs her heart out for me. Rodeo truly takes an army to compete, from the late night drives, to vet bills, fuel money, and even just words of encouragement along the way, and I have been blessed with great people in my life to support me.

“I’ve just lost my biggest fan and biggest inspiration,” she continued, “my granddaddy Billy Joe Wolaver. He’s a huge reason I’m where I am in rodeo. He and my dad are trainers; they put me on my first horse. Losing him this week has been heartbreaking, but I still feel his quiet confidence in me and know he is watching over me.”

Sadie’s sponsors include 5 Star Equine Products; Just Horsin’ Around Saddle & Tack; MVP; Draw It Out Veterinary Strength Liniment; Tres Rios Silver; and Circle H Custom Leather.

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