Glade Parker, 14, is set to take his rodeo career to the biggest arena yet when he competes in the 2021 National Junior High Finals Rodeo, which is scheduled for June 20-26 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Parker qualified for the national competition in four events — goat tying, team roping, breakaway roping and ribbon roping — by finishing in the top four in the season standings of the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association’s Junior High Division. Standings were drawn from results of nine rodeos, including the state finals, which took place May 6-7 in Gillette.
Parker, who just finished eighth grade at Laramie Middle School, was also named all-around cowboy of the year in the junior high division.
“Ever since sixth grade, when I first started in this association, it’s been a goal of mine to go to nationals,” Parker said. “I’m excited I qualified this year, because it’s my last year.”
He’ll compete in ribbon roping with partner Ireland Campbell from Shoshone, and he’ll partner with Grady Longwell of Casper in team roping.
“I want to go out there and do my best and represent Wyoming for what it is,” he said. “I want to put some solid runs together.”
Parker has been in the saddle as long as he can remember, and he’s carrying on a family tradition when he enters the arena. His great-grandfather taught his grandfather, Vern Lake, the sport of team roping. Lake taught the sport to his daughter, Jeanette Parker, who is passing it along to her son.
Jeanette Parker competed in rodeo at the high school level while growing up in Laramie and then at the University of Wyoming.
“It’s been generational,” she said.
She said Glade has shown great dedication in honing specific skills during the past few years, training several times a week at a local arena and working with his two horses, Cash and Hope.
“He’s a good jockey on (Hope),” she said. “He gives her a lot of opportunities to show off her skills.”
Glade said training his horses requires constant work.
“Horses get pretty smart and they try to cheat you a lot, so you have to work with them all the time to keep them going,” he said.
Glade qualified for nationals in one event last year, but the national rodeo was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. His grandmother, Teri Lake, said the whole family is excited for this year’s event in light of last year’s disappointment.
“He’s such a kindhearted, humble kid,” she said. “We’re all very excited.”