Over their years as a sponsor of the Texas High School Rodeo Association, Whataburger has featured many promising Whatakids. Looking back on the 2010 Whatakids of the Year, Rachel Rule and Bryce Barney, Whataburger wondered “where are they now?” The folks at Whataburger caught up with the two winners to find out what they’re up to seven years later.
Rachel Rule (2010 Whatakid of the Year)
Rachel Rule has always loved rodeo. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because the 2010 Whatakid of the Year has been competing in the professional rodeo arena and continues to reach new heights, thanks to the lessons she learned through Texas High School Rodeo Association (THSRA).
Born and raised in Blue Ridge, Texas, Rachel wanted to try every rodeo event she could growing up. “I competed in five events – the barrels, poles, goat tying, breakaway and cutting,” Rachel says. She found the spirit of competition thrilling and says she couldn’t get enough of it. Rachel’s parents, who also were involved in rodeo through their previous experiences as a team roper and cattle rancher, also encouraged Rachel to try out different events to see what fit, and to work hard to pursue the event that she most enjoyed.
Rachel attributes her success inside and out of the ring to the one simple principle of hard work. Competing in a variety of events taught her the hard work it takes to be successful, a skill she’ll always use, especially as she does now in pro rodeo. “More than anything, rodeo has taught me to keep going when things are tough and don’t ever give up, because you’re not ever going to get any better without hard work,” Rachel points out. The value of hard work has given Rachel learning experiences she applies today.
These days, Rachel travels for pro rodeo and competes in the barrel racing event. It’s her rookie year and she continues to set high standards for herself – her current goal is to win the Rookie of the Year title for WPRA. She also completed her college education at Sam Houston State University, so while she’s continued staying involved in rodeo and refining her skills, she remains committed to her education outside of the arena. As for her current favorite Whataburger order - it’s the #7, a Whataburger Jr. with a Dr. Pepper, which she enjoys during the many early mornings and late nights that come with the rodeo life.
Rachel is also thankful for the comradery and sense of family that rodeo has given her, a bond that is forged through the grit and determination of athletes. “When I was on the bloomer team in high school, I really felt like we were a close-knit group, because we were always there for each other,” says Rachel. The teammates’ devotion to each other inspired further discipline and provided an example of the work ethic she wanted to emulate in the future.
If she were speaking to someone in high school today, she would tell them to “never give up on your dreams, whatever they are.” She adds, “even though there are challenges and tough times, if you pursue what you are most passionate about, and work really hard, you’ll have something to be proud of at the end of each day.”
We look forward to watching Rachel succeed in the future, thanks to the hard work and community of support she’s built through THSRA.
Bryce Barney (2009 Whatakid of the Year)
“Your outlook determines where you end up and you should surround yourself with people who build you up,” is the unifying theme of the lessons learned by former Whatakid of the Year Bryce Barney. Positivity and a strong community have helped him grow into the person he is today, and Bryce credits his involvement with Texas High School Rodeo Association (THSRA) for spurring his growth.
Bryce became involved in rodeo at the tender age of five, along with his brother, through the Pineywoods Youth Association. The siblings’ parents encouraged them to join, as they’d also been involved in rodeo (their father was an expert calf roper). Rodeo became the family tradition, and Bryce, who hails from Carthage, Texas, continued to pursue his favorite event – “riding something that bucked.”
Though he started out with steer wrestling, roping and heeling, when he was in high school, his friends challenged him by entering him into a bull-riding competition for the first time. Much to Bryce’s surprise, he won. Stories like this one are one of the reasons community has become an important part of Bryce’s success. “It’s important to surround yourself with good people who you look up to, because they challenge you to become better and do things you didn’t think were possible,” Bryce says. He adds, “when you have a strong support system, they remind you of your full potential.”
Another key to Bryce’s success is all about having a positive attitude. “Rodeo is a humbling sport, so no matter the circumstance you must stay positive and keep your mind sharp,” Bryce adds. To him, “having a good attitude and not getting down in the dumps are keys to long-term success, no matter how much work or time success may take.” He also notes that it’s important to accept life as it comes, because, especially with rodeo, “some people just have to grind a little harder to pursue their goals, and that’s okay.” The Whataburger Patty Melt with no onions (and a heaping helping of Whataburger’s Spicy Ketchup) has also been one of his favorite ways to refuel after tough workouts.
Bryce’s grind has certainly been paying off. Bryce attended Panola College, where he graduated in 2013. He was the first rodeo team member to ever receive the Buddy Lowery Award presented to the outstanding athlete at Panola, all while being ranked third in national collegiate rodeo. He qualified for the college national finals in calf roping that same year, and later went on to qualify for the Cowboy’s Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) finals in 2015. Outside of the ring, he continued his education at Sam Houston State University and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Agriculture Engineering Technologies.
Bryce currently works in the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin. He also takes part in raising the next generation of rodeo athletes as an instructor at RE Josey's calf roping school in Karnack, Texas, teaching them the valuable lesson of keeping a positive attitude and contributing to their community.