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Tacy Kay Webb has fought in the army of front-line workers against a worldwide pandemic. And doing literal life-or-death work has given this 23-year-old Texan great perspective on rodeo’s role in the grand scheme of things. Still, she grew up in a rodeo family and was born to love the game. When she took center stage at the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo in Salt Lake City, and had a gold medal placed around her neck to a standing ovation by a packed house of grateful Americans, Webb was completely overwhelmed. In that most memorable moment, the young ICU nurse knew she’d found a fit for her busy work schedule in the World Champions Rodeo Alliance.
“When I think back on that night (July 24), it still makes me smile,” said Webb, who works in the ICU at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital in Bryan, not far from her home in Madisonville, Texas. “To get a standing ovation with so much emotion was amazing, because I know there were a lot of nurses, doctors and front-line workers in the crowd there that night who know what we went through.
“I had such a peace about me that night, because I knew it was going to turn out how God had it planned. So I wasn’t nervous, and I really got to enjoy it. I was just grateful I’d made it that far to set myself up for a shot at such a big win.”
She earned her spot in the Gold Medal Round with a 2.40-second run in the early going of the $562,500 rodeo. Webb—who’s the daughter of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tie-down roper Dan Webb and his 1982 Miss Rodeo Texas wife, Lisa—won $27,800 for roping two calves, the Gold Medal Rounder in a sizzling 1.95 seconds.
“I was guarding my wallet with my life until I got home,” smiled the 2017 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl, who also helped her alma mater Sam Houston State University win that year’s women’s national team title. “My biggest win before this was a $10,000 scholarship when I won the goat tying at the high school rodeo in San Antonio. So nothing really compares to this win. It was so awesome.”
Webb hustled back home to work, where a typical shift means clocking in at 6:30 in the evening, and punching out at 7:30 the next morning. She schedules her nursing duties as best she can around rodeos, but clearly considers her job of helping people her top priority.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse, because I’m such a people person,” she said. “Taking care of people and comforting them and their families at such a hard time makes me happy. My co-workers have been really nice about trying to help me out this summer, so I can rope some. I try to pay them back in small ways, like working Sunday nights when I get back from rodeos, so they can have the night off.”
Webb’s rodeo goal for this summer is to win enough to be in the top 40-50 in the world, so she can get into some of the limited-entry rodeos in 2022. The plan is to apply for another round of academic training next year, because she wants to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
“That’s basically an anesthesiologist, and it means three more years of school,” Webb said. “Next year is basically my last year to get to rodeo for a while, so I’m hoping to rope quite a bit in 2022.”
School is expensive, so her windfall Days of ’47 win was a great blessing. Did it also come with temptation to throw her name into the full-time rodeo-trail hat?
“Not really,” she said. “My plans haven’t changed. I’m not trying to stay out on the road to go to all of them. I’m just trying to pick and choose and get to some of the good ones, so I can go to some of the limited rodeos next year. My parents have always told me that rodeo will always be there and can always be fun.
“They said, ‘rodeo’s a great lifestyle, but it doesn’t need to be your livelihood.’ It makes it more fun for me not to have to win to eat. I never want to look at it like that. I want it to be fun. I want to be able to afford a nice horse and a reliable rig.”
Webb won Salt Lake on a father-daughter-trained sorrel horse they call Hondo, whom they started at 3 and is 12 now. Tacy Kay is grateful to see the current breakaway boom, as she knows longstanding tradition used to mean the end of most non-barrel-racer rodeo careers after college. She’s also happy to be heeding her parents’ advice on balancing rodeo and life.
“I love to rope, but my job and helping people means so much to me,” she said. “I see really sad stuff all the time at the hospital, and it makes everything else seem smaller. I enjoy helping people with their battles and all they’re going through when life is really hard. My background in rodeo helps me be a better nurse, too. You have to be able to think fast on your feet as a nurse. Rodeo has taught me to react quickly to whatever’s thrown at me, and that comes in handy at the hospital.”
The WCRA offering big-money opportunities on big stages suits a working professional such as Webb to perfection.
“A lot of girls can stay gone all summer, but I can’t,” Webb said. “In the WCRA, I can nominate my way into major events, and know where and when I’m going to get to rope and for how much money. I don’t have to run the roads all year to rope at a major rodeo, and to be able to win this much money in one spot is just so cool.”