Poplarville rodeo star likes being the underdog in male-dominated event

Chelsey Johnson has the bloodlines to become a successful rodeo queen.

The freshman excels on the rodeo team at Pearl River Community College. She won the women’s all-around event when PRCC competed at Murray State earlier in the season. She ranks in the Top 12 nationally in goat tying and breakaway roping. She also competes in team roping.

At an early age, Johnson learned about rodeo from her parents, Wayne and Tammy Johnson.

“I've been in rodeo since I was probably three or so,” Johnson said. “My dad’s side of the family was heavily involved in the horse and cattle industry in this part of the world when he was coming up. “My mom always wanted to rodeo when she was a kid, but never got the opportunity. My mom said if she ever had a kid that wanted it as bad as she did, she would support them.

“It just came natural that I would rodeo. My family has always been in rodeo. I’ve just kind of felt the need to carry on that legacy. I started out running barrels at local youth horse shows and it kind of grew from there.”

Goat tying and team roping are Johnson’s favorite events. She reached the high school nationals in goat tying at Poplarville High School.

“I love to team rope because that's an event few women compete in and I like being the underdog,” Johnson said. “Goat tying is my most successful event hands down. I actually give clinics and private lessons to local rodeo kids wanting to goat tie.”

The business administration major credits her success to Poplarville’s Michael Gascon, who runs the Gascon Horsemanship Academy.

“I've always been adequately successful with both team roping and goat tying but didn't start to really tell a difference until I started working along side Michael Gascon and his family,” Johnson said. “ They've really made a difference in my college rodeo career.”

Johnson looks forward to the spring rodeo season, as PRCC travels to Meridian on Feb. 23.

“PRCC starting a rodeo team is a dream come true,” Johnson said. “No kid fresh out of high school wants to go away 16 hours from home, no matter how bad we think we want to. The college and community has been real supportive of us.”

PRCC rodeo coach Robby Shaw said he is impressed with Johnson’s dedication.

“Chelsey is real competitive,” Shaw said. “Chelsey tries to be the best she can at every event she competes in. She has great potential.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones