Southland senior lands rodeo scholarship in Texas

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The past year has been a whirlwind for Shelby Janssen, a barrel racer who lives in a farm just outside of Austin.

She had to purchase a new horse, which she rode to the fastest time at the National High School Rodeo Finals, she traveled over 30,000 miles in four months hitting rodeos, she lost a close relative, and now she’ll be moving about 880 miles south of her hometown.

Through it all, she had her dream come true. Shelby, a senior at Southland High School, has received a full scholarship to barrel race for the rodeo team at Vernon College, a two-year junior college located in Vernon and Wichita Falls, Tex.

Shelby was discovered by Vernon head rodeo coach Bobby Scott at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Farmington, New Mexico this past summer. He saw her record the fastest time of the entire week, then he contacted her and offered her a place on his team.

“I was shocked and very impressed,” said Shelby, who was hoping to compete in rodeo at the college level. “It’s going to be better competition and I’ll have a lot more rodeos continuously.”

Shelby recorded her landmark time a day after her grandpa had passed away and she was riding a horse she had just purchased a year ago.

Throughout most of her barrel racing career, Shelby rode “Lil’ Snooper Star”, but after that horse was injured, she had to look for a new horse to race with. After a tip from Jane Melby, a family friend, Shelby interviewed with Bryel Mulligan and ReAnn Zancanella of Oklahoma and they decided she would be a good fit for their horse, “Bunny” (a.k.a. Hot Playboy Chick), who was not previously for sale. Shelby has been riding “Bunny” since 2009.

When she heads down to Vernon, which is 185 miles south of Dallas, Shelby will not have family with her but she will bring “Bunny,” “Lil’ Snooper Star” and a miniature horse with her.

“I think it’ll be good for me learn to be on my own and handle my life,” Shelby said. “If I have problems I can always come home to my family.”

While her performance at the NHSRF was big, Shelby had plenty of other accomplishments this past rodeo season. She finished fourth out of approximately 1,800 competitors at the Better Barrel Racing World Finals, was the reserve champion at the Minnesota state high school finals, and was selected to the Bloomer Trailers Rodeo Team — which means she will represent Bloomer Trailers when she competes.

Shelby plans on competing in the pro circuit after her time at Vernon, and she’s preparing for a strong run this upcoming season.

“I’m just keeping my head on straight and staying focused. There’s some good horses down there and hopefully I can run with them,” Shelby said.

Through it all, Shelby was very thankful of the help she’s received. From her grandma, Donna Berry and family friend Lisa Allen who help with chores when her and her mom are out on the rodeo circuit, to Melby for helping her find her horse.

“I’d like to say a good thank you to my parents (Lori and Steve Janssen),” Shelby said. “If it wasn’t for them there’s no way I’d have what I have to day. The money they spend and the time they take off work to help me out is great.”

Vernon College has a strong history in rodeo — it’s men’s and women’s teams won the national title in 2003.